From Woman’s Day
Singer, dancer, and pop icon Paula Abdul will be the first to tell you that she was never going to let her arthritis diagnosis stop her from dancing. “I didn’t want to let the joint pain stop me from doing what I love to do,” Abdul tells Woman’s Day. “That in itself is more painful than the physical pain.”
A decades-long dance career riddled with injuries has left Abdul, for better or worse, with a pretty high pain tolerance. But since her osteoarthritis diagnosis five years ago, she’s realized it’s time to start listening to her body. “I was like a warrior for many years going through the pain I had, but today it’s manageable,” she says. “A lot of people aren’t in tune with their body. Your body is telling you I’m hurting, so you have to be mindful of doing things that lubricate your joints. Movement lubricates the joints, and that lubrication is necessary especially for people who have arthritis pain.”
Abdul, who has partnered up with Voltaren Gel, a pain relief medication she uses regularly and that is now available over the counter, suffers from arthritis mainly in her feet and toes due to being a dancer. As a result, she relies on stretching breaks and movement throughout the day to help alleviate the pain. So despite the big life changes that have happened to everyone during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine, she’s not just sitting on the couch. For Abdul, movement is all about having fun, so whether that’s taking an online Zumba class with her sister, a virtual ballroom dance class, or using her rowing machine while catching up on TV, she makes sure she’s mixing it up and smiling while she moves her body.
And Abdul is looking after more than just her physical health these days. During the isolation of quarantine, she makes sure to check in with her mental health, too. “I wake up every morning and do a meditation, and at the end I ask ‘What can I do today that’s gonna make you happy, Paula?’ And that’s what I do,” she says.
Of course, it comes as no surprise that one thing that makes her happy is music. Putting on some music and going for a walk or dancing around the house helps Abdul move her body and lift her spirits. According to Abdul, there are two things that can take you back in time: smells and music. A whiff of a distinct scent or the melody of a favorite song can instantly transport you to a moment in your past; a moment that can provide a welcomed sense of comfort.
“I always go back to Stevie Wonder because he is the solid go-to to make you smile,” she says. “I love him because I know how much joy he exudes when he’s performing. That to Pharrell to Childish Gambino to Drake to Ariana to Demi to Katy Perry. I listen to everything, and then I go back and listen to ’80s funk. Anything that makes me smile.”
And who gets to be the lucky audience to all of Abdul’s solo dance parties around the house? That would be her 18-year-old chihuahua Betsy Moo and her two rescue pups. Fingers crossed she’ll incorporate some of her fun freestyling into her post-pandemic performances.
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