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This is a guest post from Kirsten at Graphic Organic who writes about how to start exercising again with chronic pain.
Kirsten is a 20-something year old from Belgium. Since she was 9 years old she’s lived with multiple chronic illnesses. She is an entrepreneur working from home. Her business is called Graphic Organic. She is a graphic designer, creates sustainable products and writes about her experiences with chronic illness on her blog.
Disclaimer: This article is based on my personal experience as a chronic illness patient. I’m by no means saying that this article represents the only truth. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to do any form of exercise since becoming chronically ill. Even if you share a diagnosis with someone, the illness may manifest differently. We are all valid human beings and though we may experience our conditions in a different way, we should all respect one another.
Chronic illness patients go through a very hard period of time, from the moment they start to experience their first symptoms to when they are diagnosed, and while they are learning to cope. It’s no wonder that a lot of people will stop exercising. Many patients are put on waiting lists or have to search for years to find answers to their rare health issues. These stressful situations suck a lot of energy out of them.
When getting treatment and learning how to cope with pain and fatigue, a lot of people want to start picking up their every daily life again, which often includes exercise.
But how do you start exercising again in this new painful body?
1. Ask for help
When I got diagnosed, I did a rehabilitation programme with my physical therapist. She helped me to build muscle strength again without getting injured and taught me how to do cardio with a healthy heart rate.
It’s definitely a good idea to talk to a professional who is familiar with your specific health issues. Whether that person be a physical therapist, your GP, a specialist, a personal trainer or a life coach, this is up to you.
2. Try new things
When I was a child I used to love sports like basketball and dancing but I unfortunately could not do these anymore. So I had to look for an exercise that was manageable with my illnesses.
Try new things that may be out of your comfort zone. Never in my life I would have thought I would be someone that likes yoga but you never know before you try it.
Curious about my current exercise routine? Read my blog post where I talk more about it.
3. Listen to your body
I think this one is obvious. Living with chronic pain means you’ll have to push your limits every day. But there is such a thing as overdoing it. Observe how these exercises make you feel. Is it worth the aftermath? Does it cause a flare-up?
Swimming was recommended by my doctor but I could not cope anymore with the dizziness when I came out of the water. I had to lay down the rest of my day. Even though I love swimming, I knew this wasn’t a good fit for me.
Make sure you plan your exercise wisely. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself by exercising when you have other energy demanding activities to do.
For example: If I’m going to meet up with a friend I don’t schedule physiotherapy or yoga class the day before or the day after. I want to be able to fully enjoy my free time and allow my body to recover and prevent a crash.
One last thing
Only you know what is best for you. You will need some time to figure this all out. And even when you think you know it all, your health can be very unpredictable and make you feel like you have to start all over again.
Don’t compare yourself to the fitness guru next to you on the treadmill. Sometimes you need to weigh up carefully what is most important for you at the time in a given situation: your physical health or the mental satisfaction of having walked that extra mile…
Do what you love and celebrate every tiny victory you make.
Where to find Kirsten
What to do next?
Read my next post on 5 easy steps to doing exercise when you have a chronic illness.
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