My well-meaning doctors tried to help me get ahold of my chronic pain flare ups, but handing someone with a complicated illness a brochure on a one-size-fits-all exercise plan wasn’t doing it for me. Here I was being told to exercise so that my body could heal itself, when the whole time, my body was attacking itself.
My nerves and muscles couldn’t decipher their enemy, so they were in a constant state of inflammation whether or not there was a threat. Because lyme messed up my pituitary gland, thyroid and adrenals, my body was on high alert and over time trained itself to be in panic mode (aka chronic pain from inflammation).
I would feel good and go the gym only to leave in worse shape than I started. Too much exercise caused flare ups, while not enough exercise left me weak and sore. It was aggravating hearing how good exercise would be for my body, while unsure how to balance the fine line of helping and hurting.
Anyone with chronic pain knows that this isn’t an injury, it’s a life long condition. Something that can’t be fixed with surgery or a few physical therapy sessions–it’s complicated, therefore the solution is complicated.
The best thing I found for my body over time was daily, low-impact exercises. Sometimes my body feels great and I push myself too far only to pay for it with a flare up, but over time I’ve learned that consistent gentle exercises are much more beneficial for me in the long run.
If you’re feeling like the simple act of stretching is painful, I hear you. But don’t let it be a cop out to being able to care for your body.
When you’re feeling absolutely miserable, these are 3 great places to start:
3. Sweating in a Sauna
When you feel a little less stiff and ready to get moving, try one of these out:
If you’re feeling good and want to push yourself, do it SLOWLY. It’s not worth starting from scratch because you wanted to break a record. These exercises are not to train you for a marathon, they’re for training your body how to function normally in the day to day. Stay focused on your end goal.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE!
Most people in chronic pain are either trying to do too much or are discouraged and doing too little.
Find your happy medium and give yourself permission to live your best life. If you sit at a desk all day, set a timer to take breaks to stretch. Adding simple habits throughout your day can make a huge impact on your overall wellbeing.
You’ve got this!
- Health.com: Are Saunas Actually Healthy?
- Medical News Today: Sauna: Health Benefits, Risks, and Precautions
- Mayo Clinic: Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing
- Mayo Clinic: Walking: Trim Your Waistline, Improve Your Health
- Prevention.com: 7 Incredible Health Benefits of Walking 30 Minutes a Day
- Healthline.com: What Are the Benefits of Walking?
- WebMD: Swimming
- Berkeley Wellness: Why Swimming is So Good for You
- Time.com: Why Swimming is So Good for You
- The Telegraph: Eight Healthy Reasons Why You Should Go Cycling This Summer
- Better Health Channel: Cycling – Health Benefits
- MDAnderson: 5 Health Benefits of Cycling