Participants in Sondra Lambert’s arthritis exercise class pull the ends of an elastic band. The workout is designed to strengthen muscles, joints and bones in the arm, which can help with improved motion in arthritis sufferers. L&T photo/Robert Pierce
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and even with the same disease diagnosis, symptoms and severity may vary greatly.
While exercise does not necessarily improve the condition, it can help improve a person’s range of motion. Locally, Seward County resident Sondra Lambert provides such workouts for those with arthritis at the Liberal Senior Center.
Lambert is a certified land exercise instructor. She said her classes do not involve water, and only in advance cases do they involve weightlifting.
“We’ll go into that using the (stretch) band as resistance,” she said of weightlifting.
Lambert said as people get further into the class, more of the exercises are done standing up.
“I’m not certified for water,” she said. “There are water exercises. There’s also tai chi, which is similar to what I do, but that’s not an arthritis certified class.”
Lambert’s training included eight hours of classes in Wichita, and she recently passed the test.
“It’s not hard to do,” she said. “It just takes some time.”
Lambert said there is no one body part that is focused on in her classes.
“All of them get equal attention,” she said.
Lambert said the exercises she provides improve a person’s balance and muscle strength.
“Their muscles take up their joints that hurt so bad,” she said. “It stretches the muscles. It builds them up so they have more muscle strength than they do wear and tear on the joints.”
Lambert said arthritis is a condition that hits home for her, and this is part of the reason she teaches the classes.
“My grandmother was bed ridden with rheumatoid arthritis, and that was back when they didn’t know that exercise helped,” she said. “They thought that she needed to be absolutely quiet and not use any part of a body. I watched her lose strength. They had to feed her in the end because her fingers didn’t even have enough strength to hold the spoon. She was my main reason for wanting to help others not have to go through that pain.”
Lambert said she has been teaching classes for about three years, and when she found out about the training offered in Wichita to be certified.
Lambert said all people who are interested in the class have to do is show up at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday or Thursday at the senior center at 701 N. Grant in Liberal.
“I have paperwork for them to fill out during class,” she said. “That paperwork is sent to Wichita so they know how many students I have.”
Lambert said she tries to vary the exercises she does with participants from class to class.
“(Thursday), some of the exercises that were in my lesson plan down towards the bottom of the plan, I made it the top,” she said. “I just varied it just a little bit. Today, for warm up, we played ball. We don’t every time. They really enjoy the ball playing. It exercises almost every part of their body. That’s just something they enjoy. Sometimes, we make air cake. That’s where we get everything down out of make believe cabinets, and we break our eggs and pour our vanilla and all of that.”
While the exercises do not always make the arthritis better, it will keep joints from getting stiff.
“As you move them, they learn that they like that exercise,” Lambert said. “They will increase the range of motion for these people.”
Lambert said the exercises help with other conditions such as osteoporosis and fibromyalgia.
“There are several different types of arthritis, and one thing that’s listed in all of them is exercise,” she said. “If you do a lot of sitting, the exercises for your leg would be very important. It would keep these muscles all toned up so that there’s less pressure on your joints.”
Lambert said class participants can do the exercises at home.
“I give them handouts,” she said. “They know what my lesson plan is for that week I print off my exercise book. They can look through the exercise book and match the numbers that are out to the side of each thing that we do, and they can do them at home.”
Lambert said all she does is show people how the workouts are done.
“If I was teaching a college class where I had a full hour, they would do a full hours worth of exercise, and we would go through the whole plan,” she said.
Lambert said she has classes of about six to eight people.
“I have eight that are signed up, and I have six that will normally come in,” she said
Lambert leads the workout at 1:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Liberal Senior Center, and it lasts for about 30 minutes.
“If they want to stay for the tai chi, which is not an arthritis-based exercise, they’re welcome to,” she said. “It’s open for more people. I’ve got room in here for more.”