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Exercises that I did during my recovery process

I promise to share what exercises that I did during my recovery process. I was/am indeed a very active and healthy person by nature. When I was diagnosed with RA in Jun 2014, I was very depressed and I could not see any future ahead again.

Though I had muscle wastage and I was left with only 38 kg, I determined to regain my health hence I worked very closely with my rheumatologist and the physiotherapist. I am now back to my normal weight and I am back to a very active and healthy normal life.

I could not touch my own face hence I cut my long hair. I could not change my own clothes and I could not put on my shoes, basically I depended very much on my daughter to take care of me for about 10 months. Since I could not lift my hands up, I started to use a 2 1/2 feet long stick to move my hands up and down, front and back every morning and night. I started to feel that my hands could move up higher after about 4 months of painful non-stop exercising.

My rheumy sent me to the physiotherapist after 4 months of treatment. Before that, because I had muscle wastage, my rheumy sent me to the occupational therapist in Sept 2014, 2 months after the medication.

Beside using the stick to move my hands, I also used thera band to slowly build my strength. Anything that I could use to move my hands up, I just used them. I walked my hands up a wall, a pole or a tree to the height that I could tolerate the pain. I hold my hands for a while then I let them down for a rest and started the process again.

When I got stronger, I used a soft ball to throw and catch them so that I could exercise and maintained the flexibility of my wrists and fingers. I also used the hand grips to work on my fingers too. I was still in great pain while I was doing all the exercises above.

I used to test if I could do the yoga posts but very sad to say that I could not until many months down the road. My daughter used to send me to the garden nearby after work. After a few rounds of walking around the garden, she would send me to the play-ground in the garden and I started to make use of those equipment to work on my hands and legs. That helped a lot to build my muscle and strength again. You can see those equipment that I used in the pictures.

I could not walk properly at the start because my knees and ankles would just give way even on a very flat road. So my daughter was always with me to ensure I did not fall over. Walking a lot eventually put my ankles and knees back to the sense of balancing my body.

A year of painful and hard work exercising, I tested if I could do some yoga posts. I was so glad that I finally could do a few posts. Thereafter, I continue the normal exercises and added on to some simple yoga posts and eventually I continue the proper yoga and pilates now.

I could not squat and I could not sit on the floor at the beginning. I hold the table top or any solid thing of the right height and started to squat a bit every day. Slowly, I slid myself down to the floor from the sofa set and started to bend my knees and ankles with my hands. It was very painful and hard work those days because my joints were still swollen and in great pain. However, with my determination to live a normal life again, I made it and today I am a healthy and an active person again.

For those who do not know what kind of exercises to start with, my advice is to do anything that can move your joints and at the level that you can tolerate the pain. The earlier you start your exercises, the faster you will recover from the stiffness of your joints. You need not go round to look for any specific equipment or place to work with your joints, you can just do it with anything around you as long as you move your joints.

I hope my experience will help you to get on with your exercises without fear immediately. Trust yourself and listen to your own body are the keys to regain your health again.

5 Replies

Excellent thanks for sharing :-)

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It was a very painful process though. Anyhow, the focus is to keep moving our joints therefore it is not what we use and where we do it. Just keep moving the joints with what you have around you. A pole, a tree trunk or a wall, I just walked my hands up and up until I could not take the pain then I stopped.

The process was long and it took a long time to see result. In the hospital, I noticed many patients had no determination to get going because of the pain and there was no result.


Dear Kai,

Being a RA patient myself, I was very depressed and confused at the beginning. I was in great pain and no one seemed to understand how much pain that I had with me.

When I set my mind to work on my joints positively, I saw the result and it worked after many months of consistent exercises and I was a very discipline person. Along the way in the hospital, I saw many people gave up because they saw no result though doing the exercise. Not knowing that the result came after months of continuous and painful exercises.

My only intention in mind is to share my own experience and I hope to inspire those who are still looking for what kind of exercises to get on with to get started immediately. To me, just make use of anything around you, keep moving the joints is the key to ensure mobility.



Yes, I do my little part to share my recovery process. When I was not mobile, I needed advice to regain my mobility so badly. Not knowing what to do next. Whatever the physiotherapist told me to do, I ensured to do them repeatedly at home.

To walk my hands up the wall and to threw and caught the soft ball were the exercises that my physiotherapist wanted me to do. To wheel my hand was also one of the exercise that my physiotherapist told me to do. Therefore, whenever I saw the opportunity to get on with similar exercises, I would not hesitate to do them.

Just to tell the truth, I could not push the paddles of the equipment on the pictures when I started to use them because my legs had no strength. I could not push myself back when I started to use those equipment because my hands had no strength. It was really disappointed but I did not despair but continue to work on my hands and legs.

I started with the small wheel to wheel my hands. I could only do one hand at a time then because I could not get the 2 hands to move together. It was just too painful to get the 2 hands on the wheel at the same time. Once a young boy came up to asked if that what I would like to do? I was smiling and answered yes because that was what I could do at that moment. He was so shocked and confused and walked away in surprised.

But I did it and I am very happy of my achievement today. I believe all RA patients can do it if they put in enough efforts to do it and believe in themselves.



Spot on! It is hard work but doable. My exercises are only some example for others to think in the same line. Say if someone has too much of joints replacement and not possible to be mobile anymore, he or she can do some other exercises while sitting on a chair. The message is to be patient and continue moving, it will improve else the muscle be getting weaker each day and the body will be more and more stiff each day.

You see, this is a great chair exercise one can follow.


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