Friday, 8 June 2018

working out when you have chronic pain

Honestly, this is not something I'd thought ever to confess as I've tried to maintain my image and reputation of laziness and 'oh-I-don't-exercise' nonsense, but most of the time I enjoy working out. The gym's not for me, but for almost two years (!) I've had some kind of a workout routine going on that I can do at home. I even mentioned it in passing on here once to hold myself accountable. And I mean, it's kind of worked.

However, while I say I mostly enjoy it (not necessarily always the act of exercising but the outcome, feeling afterwards and the feeling of accomplishment), I also have a difficult time with it all. Any form of exercise that will proper make me sweat has me notice an increase in pain or risk triggering a migraine. Which certainly limits what I can and cannot do. Similarly my headaches and tension neck can leave me feeling woozy and unwell even on a good day. Sometimes I'm ready to start my workout, feel either faint or get a more sudden pain and just have to lay down on the floor for a good half an hour before continuing. Other times I realize it's just not going to happen today. Or I'm in bed all day and don't even think about the fact I'm meant to be doing squats etc. Or everything goes right to plan. You never know. Which makes maintaining an exercise plan a challenge.

It's a bit of a bummer that I went from a quite active and sporty child and teenager to basically never doing any kind of exercise, and a lot of it is due to chronic pain. And it's taken me such a long time to shift my mentality back on the right track. I remember once my pain started and I finally returned to school, my PE grades started dropping and when I asked about this I was told I had a bad attitude. Which may have been true to some degree, but mostly I was just unable to participate to the extent that I had done previously. And after dumb comments like this from teachers and friends, after doctors' advice to curing pain being "just exercise" when you specifically let everyone know you aren't physically capable of it, it all got so discouraging. It was definitely easier to just not try and let that become a defining 'quirk' in my personality. Which is the kind of thing I've now been working away from.

Because while I may not be as athletic as I used to be, I may not be able to do everything I used to, my head and neck movement may be limited, I may have a hard time, I may have lost a lot of my endurance, strength, speed and agility, it doesn't mean I cannot and should not do anything. For me, having a routine really helps with everything, and adding some sort of sport/exercise/working out/stuff into that routine has also been helpful. Not necessarily in lessening pain, but in feeling better overall. Finding balance and finding what works for you as an individual is key. I've said it before and I'll say it again: specifically to headaches and migraines, different types need different treatment and while some can be helped by exercising, others will definitely get worse. You know yourself best, despite what anyone else will tell you. That's probably why I prefer to stay in the comfort of my own house - it's easier to go at your own pace, know your limits, know how far you can go, take breaks if you need to. And I also like silly RPG-style programmes, because, honestly, I think working out is boring and having a storyline makes it more interesting, more fun and more likely for me to complete something. A couple that I've finished and could recommend if anyone's interested are this and this by Darebee. I also like their workouts because I can pretend I'm someone like Buffy (I am such a little tit). But, really, even doing something very basic is a start. (If you want supervision or help relevant to you, checking with your doctor or physiotherapist might be of use as well. I went to physiotherapy at one point, but it wasn't really for me at that point in my life, and also I fainted, because of some of the movements I was made to do and that I wouldn't do on my own. Haha! But just because it wasn't for me doesn't mean it won't be and isn't helpful for lots of others!)
I know it can be discouraging just to have chronic pain, nevermind doing things that require extra energy while dealing with chronic pain or illnesses. And sometimes working out is the last thing you think about. Sometimes working out is not an option. But if it is, it is worth getting into. And I am the last person who I'd thought to see recommending it, haha! Adding even a little workout into your routine and sticking to it can be so good for you, for most people. Just don't bother about having to skip a day (or three). When I started writing this, I was doing good and feeling good and accomplished, but currently I am having a more difficult time and haven't stuck to my workout routine for over a month. Which I could feel disheartened about, but I don't. It's okay. I'm doing my best, and we can all only try and do our best.


Joanna Joy said...

When it comes to exercise, motivation is the hardest part. If you work out in the morning and build it into your daily schedule, I've found that that works best. If we put it off till later in the day, there is less of a chance that we will get to it (because truth be told, after a long day at work or school no one wants to run on a treadmill right?). Stop by my blog when you have a chance, hope you have a wonderful week:)

FashionRadi said...

Love your positive thinking. You've got this!
I like to exercise even it's in the comfort of my home for 20 minutes. It always feels great afterwards.

Corinne said...

It's so frustrating sometimes. My vertigo can often stop me working out and it is so annoying when you are mentally in the game but cant get there physically!

Corinne x

Laura Jones said...

Joanna Joy - that's definitely true, it's hard to stay motivated. and i'd usually agree with getting it over with in the morning, but i'm generally having to have a slow start to a day and can't get anything because that's when my pain's the worst right now. and will do, chicken! xx

FashionRadi - aw, thank you, darling! i definitely don't think of myself as a positive thinker, so i'm glad to hear that, haha! and that's true :-) xx

Corinne - isn't it! and i hope your vertigo hasn't been too bad lately, doll! xx

© summer violets. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig