Athletes with arthritis stay active with low-impact sports
Last month, Monique Van Osch was bed-stricken from pain in her joints. Today, she practices yoga at Provencher Park.
Van Osch was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis when she was 12-years-old. Although almost 60 per cent of Canadians with arthritis are inactive or less active because of joint pain and swelling according to The Arthritis Society, Van Osch hasn’t let arthritis slow her down.
Instead, she turned to low-impact sports like yoga, which are easier on her joints.
“Yoga has made such a world of difference in my life,” Van Osch said. “I noticed a lot of positive changes in my body almost right away.”
She’s now a yoga instructor and practices every day, but it took her a long time to discover a good alternative to her original sport of choice. Van Osch had to quit figure skating years ago because of pain and swelling in her ankle.
“We had to force my foot into my skates and I was crying in the changing room,” she said, recalling her last season of figure skating.
Melissa Williams can relate. In one day, the 23-year-old went from playing basketball 10 times a week to none at all after she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 15.
“It was tough seeing everyone else play and not being able to,” Williams said. “Arthritis isn’t a normal injury where you take time off to heal and then you come back. It’s a forever thing.”
After her diagnosis, Williams stayed in the game by keeping statistics and coaching her sister’s team. Although she doesn’t coach anymore, she said she stays active through low-impact activities like cycling and swimming.
Both Williams and Van Osch said they didn’t know much about alternative sports when they were first diagnosed and were frustrated by their circumstances.
“I felt like figure skating was one thing that I was really good at, and that gave me a lot of motivation and self-confidence,” Van Osch said. “It was tough for me. I felt sad about quitting.”
But over ten years later, Van Osch volunteers for The Arthritis Society and has re-discovered her self-confidence through yoga and low-impact sports.