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Joint Therapy

Easing the pain of arthritis exercise with arthro-pilates.

At 18, Lori Weisbrod could barely walk. Psoriatic arthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis, riddled her body. Over the years, numerous corrective surgeries—5 joint replacements on her hands, 2 knee and foot surgeries, right wrist fusion, her jaw wired set, tendon replacement and reconnection –were necessary. With limited mobility and lack of exercise, she became overweight and out of shape, developed further joint problems, and felt increased fatigue performing normal everyday activities. “I realized I had to find something to keep my muscles toned despite the arthritis or this disease would consume my life,” states Weisbrod.


Pilates, a fitness system focusing on stretching, deep breathing and strengthening the abdominal core, changed her life in 2000, just as she was turning 40 and about to have her 11th operation. ” I took classes where I was barely able to get down on the mat,” remembers Weisbrod “plus the instructors weren’t trained to consider compromised and artificial joints, range of motion, or fatigue associated with of arthritis.”   So she modified the positions to accommodate her condition and, over time, went from a size 12 to size 4, got in the best shape of my life, became a certified Pilates mat instructor and created arthro-pilates.


Arthro-Pilates (arthro-pilates.com), created by Weisbrod in 2006, is a program of modified Pilates postures for people with joint limitations. It incorporates standard Pilates positions modified through range of motion, a slower pace, and special assistive equipment to protect joints, both original and artificial. Arthro-Pilates can be done privately at your home or in a class setting, in a bed or in a wheelchair. “I bring a comfort level,” says Weisbrod. “I know what it’s like to have arthritis in its most severe form and numerous surgeries, so people are more comfortable working with me rather than someone what really doesn’t understand.” Her clients range from those suffering from all forms of arthritis and associated illnesses like fybromialgia to chronic back issues, herniated disks, multiple sclerosis, and pre and post surgery to strengthen the body.


Prior to her second right hip replacement surgery, Michele Goddard, a 49-year-old banking executive diagnosed with juvenile arthritis since 12, wanted to strengthen her body to help speed her recovery. “When I met Lori we traded war stories and I was impressed with how knowledgeable she was about my condition,” says Goddard. Weisbrod created a program that strengthened the muscles around her hips, legs, core and upper body. “I felt a big difference after my surgery. My hip muscles were not as sore and I had more energy,” says Goddard. “I’m really looking forward to working with her again even though I’m still in bed, because she’ll create a program around that. She finds ways to work with the limitations.”


Nearly 4.5 million Canadians suffer from arthritis, making it the leading cause of disability in Canada. The number is expected to increase to 6 million by 2026.”Baby boomers are going to be aging with arthritis. It’s inevitable,” says Dr. Blair Lamb (drlamb.com), a pain and rehabilitation specialist who has designed stretching programs for many pain conditions agrees that “specialized stretching specific to your pain condition, in combination with other treatments (like Genuine Health Fast Joint Care Pain Relief + Repair) is required for treating chronic pain.”


As Weisbrod sees it “baby boomers are going to need a gentle form of fitness that’s highly effective and doesn’t harm their joints. That’s arthro-pilates.”


This September the Arthritis Society is focusing on arthritis in the workplace. (www.arthritis.ca)

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