Alex Scott - "How I Manage Arthritis"
Alex Scott MBE is known as one of women football's most celebrated players. Only 37, you would be forgiven for not knowing that she has lived with osteoarthritis for several years.
Osteoarthritis impacts more than 8.75 million people in the UK and while it is more common in people aged over 60 there are many people much younger who live with the condition.
Alex is one such person. So how does someone with Alex’s busy schedule and active life manage osteoarthritis every day? We caught up with her to find out.
Take Each Day As It Comes
When I was first told I had osteoarthritis my only real concern was how it was going to impact my playing career. Luckily, I had a team of incredible medical staff to support me and guide me through training to ensure I was ready for match days. These days I have to do that myself. I didn’t fully understand the condition to be honest, my thinking was just, “What's the plan? Talk to me about what next and how I can manage it and how I can still progress?”
The key is to take each day as it comes and not put too much pressure on yourself. That was hard for me at first as I’m someone who wants to push myself. But when the pain of osteoarthritis kicks in that’s not always an option. Recently my arthritis has been really quite bad. I went running one day and the next day my ankle was just awful. I was going to a fashion event in London that evening and I couldn’t physically get my ankle into the boots I was meant to be wearing.
As a result of that I had to go back to a physio to get some help. The key for me is being able to acknowledge when you’re struggling. There is no shame in putting your hand up and saying “I need help”. I’m fortunate because I learned early when living with arthritis from a team of experts. But if you’re finding it difficult, talk to someone, your GP, your pharmacist or even an arthritis charity. You never know who might recommend something that can make all the difference in your day-to-day pain.
Adapt To Stay Active
After my run caused my ankle to flare up I knew I wanted to keep moving but also knew my ankle would not thank me for anything high-impact. So I changed up my exercise routine. I started doing more on my Peloton bike and rowing machine. There was a time I would find things like that and having to change my plans was frustrating but you have to accept it for what it is. I know I need to alter things and in doing so keep doing what I love.
So does it stop me from training? No, I could use it as an excuse but then I’d only have myself to blame. You can find a way, and that way is unique to you. There is no right or wrong way, just what works for you. I know I love to run but I also know that right now I cannot do that, so I find a way to keep moving until I can get back out there. Don’t dwell on what you can do, be grateful for what you can do and focus on that. It’s a simple mind change that can have a huge impact. There'll be things that you are limited to not being able to do, but actually it might set you off on a whole new path like me, I never thought I'd enjoy being on a rowing machine or like biking as much. It's opened my eyes up to test myself and other things that I wasn't doing before.
Remove The Stigma
Something working with FlexiSEQ has really taught me is that there is nothing wrong with admitting you’re struggling. I always made the assumption it was only people over a certain age who got osteoarthritis, that it was essentially part of the ageing process for some people. Now I’ve got it, I know better. The thing with arthritis is it cannot be seen, it’s not like people like me who have it walk around with a badge on. It’s invisible so we need to educate people about it and remove the stigma. It’s okay to tell people, “sorry, I’m in a lot of pain today”. As soon as you start doing that you feel empowered to help people understand why you’re in that pain. That can only be a good thing.
How do you manage arthritis? Let us know on Facebook.