First I would like to make it clear that no amount of exercise is going to fix a structural problem in ones body, it won't cure cancer and it doesn't make MS disappear. Everyone of us has experienced someone who insists that if we just exercise daily we would feel so much better. That statement alone can send some further from family and friends, because it indicates the person who says that doesn't understand the disease or condition. When rolling over in bed feels like you have run a marathon, then we don't want to hear those statements from people.
I want to acknowledge that there are times when putting one foot in front of the other is all you can do safely. Finally I want to acknowledge when you are in the crisis mode of managing pain, exercise is far from your mind and that is understandable.
With the understanding that some exercise is not possible on the usual level for most chronic pain sufferers let's talk about some options.
My regular readers will know I have been experimenting with Aqua fit for the last few weeks. It has been interesting. I have been encouraged by my husband and doctor to give it a try, but go slow and don't go alone. It's a good thing I didn't go alone. I discovered I cannot get myself out of the pool, that would have been embarrassing!
The first evening I lasted about fifteen minutes then went to the therapy pool. I was very tired the next day but not really any affects. The next visit I stayed in about twenty five minutes before heading to the therapy pool. I slept well that night and was a little sore the next day. Then this week I stayed for forty five minutes and headed to the therapy pool. I was in pain, I hurt at night and the next morning I was not only fatigued but hurting and had muscle soreness. So I did too much. I had a bad morning and I learned from it. Doing too much however, can set me off sometimes for weeks. Luckily that wasn't the case this time. I want to add that I am in the back of the class, doing my own thing. I don't try to keep up, and I don't use weights etc. I think getting out of the house, into a swimsuit and into the water and moving is exercise enough!
I have tried many things over the years and all of them have been good. I will tell you about my personal experience and what I have researched. What I know for sure and want you to take from this is exercise is important but it's all about you. What works for you and your body in this moment in time. It doesn't matter what you used to do, what your friend does, or even someone else who has your condition does. Listen to your body. Let the hum of exercise move through it. Allow yourself some discomfort is you haven't moved in a while, that's normal. What is crucial is to go slow, painfully slow.
1. Mindful movement is a very slow movement to either music or a meditation. There is much written on mindful movements and they can even be done from bed if necessary. Thich Nhat Hanh, has YouTube videos explaining how to and the benefits.
2. Walking Meditation because of recent falls I don't go for a walk outside right now. What I have been doing when I can walk is using a walking meditation to walk around inside my house.
3. Aqua fit or Swimming is considered one of the most beneficial exercises for those with joint and muscle pain. As you read above in my account go slow.
4. Yoga is fantastic for your body and mind. Yoga seems to be a great go to for those who have the ability to stretch without aggravating nerves. It has been something I have done over the years but because of nerve entrapment it hasn't worked for me. I am so hoping to get back to it after recovering. Many yoga studios have restorative yoga which is a gentle way to get back into moving your body. We have a fantastic yoga studio right here in our community that is welcoming and understanding of chronic pain and those with limitations.
5. A New England Journal of Medicine study this year found that twice-weekly sessions of tai chi reduced pain, stiffness, and fatigue in fibromyalgia patients. Tai chi also helps with building strength, endurance, and balance.
1. Walking is the perfect exercise for those who can do it. It isn't a timed event, you can go wherever or whenever you choose. There isn't a sign up fee and the commitment is only to yourself. Go at whatever pace suits you and for as long as is feasible on the day you are going. I used to have a small goal daily for there I would walk, and always felt better when I could do it. I now have a pacer on my phone and even though I can't walk too much I do keep track of how many steps I take and try to make a reasonable effort to be active within the house.
2. Gentle stretching. For those who have been to Physio for one reason or another will come home with a paper with exercises to follow. Those stretches are great for keeping you moving. Find a gentle stretching program and do it daily.
Obviously there are many more ways to exercise than I have talked about here. I have tried to focus on what is possible for those who find exercise a daily challenge, because of pain and fatigue. I know for some what I have listed may even be overwhelming, but on a good day try to do a little and then listen to your body.