Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

My personal story: How I deal with my RA before, during, and after workouts.

Written by: Victor Hervias

Epidemiology of RA (per Johns Hopkins Medical RA department)

Rheumatoid Arthritis has a worldwide distribution with an estimated prevalence of 1 to 2%. Prevalence increases with age, approaching 5% in women over age 55. The average annual incidence in the United States is about 70 per 100,000 annually. Both incidence and prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis are two to three times greater in women than in men. Although rheumatoid arthritis may present at any age, patients most commonly are first affected in the third to sixth decades.

My story: (you must understand this disease get’s worse as you age.)

Take for granted that you will never be able to do things the same way  again, e.g., if you trained with a 100% intensity as I did, every time you went out there to train or to fight in the ring, well, you will no longer be able to that. I was first hit with this while I was fighting, but I was 38 years old, and already winding down in my fighting career. I was also getting ready to start fighting in the cage, when the sport was so young. I knew I had to try this new sport. I always enjoyed knocking people down and out with my kicks and punches. My wrestling & Judo skills were long forgotten due to my stand up fighting, and good  kickboxing skills. Long story short, I broke my shoulder during training, and that ended my career if I ever had one at that point. You will have to modify your training to compensate the different areas your body is hit by this crippling disease and other injuries that happen.

I was hit in all areas of my body and killed me during training and fighting (with pain both before and post physical activities.).  The weird thing about this RA is that it hits in flare ups, the knee, hips, elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles, toes, shoulders, all of the major joints one needs to fight with. In my case these attacks usually lasted 5 to 10 days and it could be all areas mentioned at the same time or a couple at the same time. And the Pain! Since I had no intention of quitting my training I always modified my training to compensate the areas of my body that was being attacked.

In summary:

    • Modification of training and fighting is now a way of life, e.g. ,if you want to continue training or fighting.
    • Understand that you don’t have much time left of hard training due to RA.
    • If you are a normal martial artist, where you train or teach for fun and without the brutal intensity that is required by a professional or semi-pro fighter. Then you will last a lot longer than the other guy.
    • You will have to deal with pain everyday of your life.
    • If you did 50 jumping leap frogs, 3 rounds of that, with 30 seconds break, you probably will cut that by half and eventually stop that type hard impact on the knee joints.
    • Heavy bag work. I used to be a monster at this and is one of my true loves on training. To this day I continue this training, but I can no longer be a beast with it. I had to accept the fact that I will modify that training as well. Today I punch and kick the bag with much less power but I still do 12, 3 minute rounds with 60 second rest. I do this 3 to 4 times per week.
    • Likewise my weight training has diminished in the weight I use. Today I use much less weight than I used to.
    • Kicks and punches: My warm ups in training have been cut drastically. But I continue on knowing that only death will stop my training and workouts.


2 thoughts on “Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

    Ryan Howlett said:
    February 21, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Victor – I can’t tell when this was written, would be curious to get some of your input. My situation isn’t that much different than what you describe above. Would really appreciate input from other devoted martial artists and how RA is impacting them; especially w/JuiJitsu.


      Martail Arts Information Local & USA responded:
      March 2, 2016 at 2:20 am

      I am sorry its taken too long for my reply. If still interested please email me again and I will be able to give you all the answers you may be wondering about.
      We have been away for personal reasons but we’re back and hopefully for good.
      Victor Hervias


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