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The Role of Therapeutic Exercise for Kids With JA

Getting proper exercise often means more than just being active.

By Charlotte Huff

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The first step toward better fitness is likely the most boring one, from your child’s perspective. But by developing and following a therapeutic exercise routine, you can help your child improve strength, joint flexibility and other key components of better joint support.

Exercises fall into several categories. Range-of-motion (ROM) exercises help your child maintain or achieve the motion necessary to accomplish common movements. A neck exercise, for example, may improve her ability to glance at someone standing just behind her. Building muscle mass also is important; to that end, strengthening exercises may be recommended. Another key exercise component – aerobic exercise – helps build your child’s stamina and cardiovascular fitness.

To be most effective, the exercises should be performed regularly, despite your child’s possible lack of interest. An exercise plan is useless if not enacted and followed.

To encourage compliance, consider setting a regular time and location for your child’s exercises. They should be performed on a firm but padded surface, such as a carpeted floor. A bed is too soft and doesn’t provide sufficient support. If your child struggles to get on the floor, try placing an exercise mat on a low table like a coffee table.

Also, consider doing the exercises with your child and getting her siblings to join in, too.

Although the exercises may make your child’s muscles sore, they shouldn’t cause any pain in the joint itself. Stop the exercise if your child complains of joint pain.

If a joint is actively inflamed – hot or swollen – only do gentle range-of-motion exercises. Don't let your child place her full weight on that joint. Most important, don't begin any program of therapeutic exercise before checking with her doctor or therapist to verify that the exercises are appropriately targeting, without overtaxing, her joints and limbs.

 

 

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The Role of Therapeutic Exercise for Kids With JA

Getting proper exercise often means more than just being active.

By Charlotte Huff


The first step toward better fitness is likely the most boring one, from your child’s perspective. But by developing and following a therapeutic exercise routine, you can help your child improve strength, joint flexibility and other key components of better joint support.

Exercises fall into several categories. Range-of-motion (ROM) exercises help your child maintain or achieve the motion necessary to accomplish common movements. A neck exercise, for example, may improve her ability to glance at someone standing just behind her. Building muscle mass also is important; to that end, strengthening exercises may be recommended. Another key exercise component – aerobic exercise – helps build your child’s stamina and cardiovascular fitness.

To be most effective, the exercises should be performed regularly, despite your child’s possible lack of interest. An exercise plan is useless if not enacted and followed.

To encourage compliance, consider setting a regular time and location for your child’s exercises. They should be performed on a firm but padded surface, such as a carpeted floor. A bed is too soft and doesn’t provide sufficient support. If your child struggles to get on the floor, try placing an exercise mat on a low table like a coffee table.

Also, consider doing the exercises with your child and getting her siblings to join in, too.

Although the exercises may make your child’s muscles sore, they shouldn’t cause any pain in the joint itself. Stop the exercise if your child complains of joint pain.

If a joint is actively inflamed – hot or swollen – only do gentle range-of-motion exercises. Don't let your child place her full weight on that joint. Most important, don't begin any program of therapeutic exercise before checking with her doctor or therapist to verify that the exercises are appropriately targeting, without overtaxing, her joints and limbs.