Traditional Forms of Exercise

Home ThinkSpace Week 2: Movement, Energy and Fatigue Traditional Forms of Exercise

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  • We always hear that exercise is good for us, and that even when we are experiencing chronic pain we should still do it because ultimately we will feel better. I have not always found that to be the case. There was the time when I did a 30-minute workout with weights at the gym – at a relatively low level of intensity for me – and ended up in bed for a few days afterwards. That’s when my body screamed to me: “Don’t. Lift. Weights. When. I. Am. Hurting. So. Much. …and don’t listen to those so-called experts!” So I did some extra soothing and self-care. It’s okay, body, it’s okay. I hear you. I won’t do that to you again. Just enjoy soaking in this nice bath I’ve made for you with Epsom salts and lavender essential oil.
    When I was feeling better I resumed the same workout schedule and everything was fine for a while; then on a random day – and seemingly apropos of nothing – Boom! I got sidelined again. And I listened to my body. The result? I don’t go to the gym anymore; I developed a gentle routine that I do at home. I use very light weights and work all of my muscle groups, but not to failure or exhaustion. My body is much happier now, and I don’t have to pay for a gym membership. It’s a win-win for the two of us. :-)
    How about you? Does exercise always make you feel better? Is exercise ever NOT good for you? How does your body let you know? Can you hear your body better during or after exercise? Have you used the signals you’ve received from your body to adjust your exercise regimen? How do you make that feedback loop work?
    #bodymovement #exerciseisgoodforyou #post-exertionalmalaise #gentleworkout

    Gail Moser
  • When we moved to a new place (in a very rural area) a number of years ago, I was very excited to learn that there was a weekly yoga class at the local school. When the instructor started out the session espousing her philosophy of “no pain, no gain” I knew it wasn’t the class for me. Years later I learned that she only lasted one season, as after the first or second week no one returned for another session. Seems we all had the same impression – it shouldn’t hurt to make progress with your exercise routine. #gentleworkout

  • 3 years ago I developed a chronic hip/groin/SI pain related in part to overexercising.  Despite this, I have still found that avoiding exercising has not helped me.  If I go for two or more days without exercising, my body becomes stiff and my pelvis and SI joint tend to lock up.
    I have found that I need some exercise, but that I have a limit for the kinds of exercise that I can do and the intensity and duration of those exercises.  When I overdue it, I often don’t know until later in the day or the following day from the exercise, so it’s been a lot of trial and error to figure out what is good for me.  I’ve also learned that my body responds to some exercises better than others.  For instance, I have never overdone it through swimming.  Weightlifting feels great up until I’ve done too much.  Biking and running help me stay loose, but I have a time limit there too.  Elliptical machines feel strange, and I’ve always had pain the next day regardless of how long I’ve used it.
    One of the most helpful things for me has been to remember to pay attention to how my body is holding up while I’m exercising, instead of only focusing on pushing myself and burning calories.  If I concentrate on keeping my body aligned and my breathing regular, I can usually buy some time from the dangerous muscle-tension that triggers the intense pain.
    #exerciseinmoderation #findtherightexercises #monitorthemotions #avoidmuscletension

    Rachel Carriere
    • Nice approach!

  • I never “exercise” per-se. Until recently, I was a professional contemporary dancer for 20 years. That is a whole book, the evolution of body awareness. In short, I feel as if the paradigm of how to train as a dancer actually was like swapping one religion for another. I bought what the teachers had to say hook line and sinker, and didn’t really question, I chose to trust. I also bought what the yoga teachers had to say hook line and singer, and didn’t really question, I chose to trust. In hindsight – it damaged my body. 5 years ago I went on a quest to de-dancify my body, and began some deep listening, and set as an intention restoring the humanity in the way I prepare my body to flow in space as a performer and choreographer. This concept of “exercise” and “conditioning”, as I was open to what insight the body had to offer radically shifted. We live in a house that is made of flesh, blood, bones, organs, a wonder – and taking good care of the house, to me, is about caring for it. Our modern life is un-natural given the architecture of our mind/body/spirit. We are made to move. Exercise has become a replacement for what didn’t need I imagine when we were living closer to our origins/nature and had a more connected relationship to nature. In the flow of the “now” life is bringing me daily walks which is a time for also practicing being mindful and Qigong. 20 years ago it was training at a gym, yoga, ballet classes, modern dance classes, creating my own classes – but that is where I was in my journey. It was what I needed in the moment. I think embracing what is honest for you at any given moment on any given “funday” (I decided to do away with days of the week and now just call every day “funday”) and flowing with what you feel will support your journey – do that. Body building is an intriguing art, if that calls you, do that. I know someone who loves bike racing – he does that. I know a woman who is 86 and loves competitive ballroom dance – she does that. We aren’t created architecturally to sit for long hours. If you flow in ways counter to the intelligence of our design, common sense says it will lead to the body going ouch.

    • Dymond, I love how you used deep body listening and setting your intention to “restore the humanity” to your body movement. So many popular trainers and exercise programs today treat the body as a machine – the P90X and Insanity workouts come to mind – it seems that they ignore that there is an actual human inside, operating that body. And that type of workout is fine for some people. However, using deep listening and setting one’s intention as you have will lead to the type of exercise and schedule that, as you put it, is “flowing with what you feel will support your journey”.
      #deeplistening #settingintention #funday #dowhatworksforyou

      Gail Moser
  • Exercise usually makes me feel better, but not always. Sometimes its just feeling bad in a way thats different from day to day chronic pain and fatigue. Taking a break from the usual discomfort with some discomfort I have earned. After exercise I feel pain and fatigue from that effort. It can for a time supercede my usual discomforts and I can feel accomplished. I have recently been pondering that as a bicyclist I was predisposed and conditioned to the pains, discomfort and fatigue of long distances in the saddle. This prepped me for chronic illness. I ride much less these days than I used to, but after an effort on the bike I get to feel some of the older, familiar pains and exhaustion and I find it comforting and rewarding until it wears off.

    • Zepplin, yours is a really, really, interesting perspective on the pain that can come from a strenuous workout or bike ride as opposed to chronic pain. I used to work out with weights, always increasing my weight and never getting comfortable, in order to achieve maximum muscle growth. So every day I felt what I called “a delicious soreness”. It was kind of a badge of honor. Now I can no longer work out like that so I don’t get to experience that anymore. I think it is a blessing that you can still find the comfort and reward in the familiar pains and exhaustion from your bike rides. I’m not sure that everyone will identify or even understand this concept, but I do. Thank you for sharing this, it brought back some pleasant memories.
      #hurtsogood #painascomfort #painasreward

      Gail Moser
  • Right now, the only formal exercise I do is gyrotonics. I almost always feel good afterward. If I have a little pain following, it’s okay and reminds me that I did some work. I have very little strength and working my muscles makes me feel good. One day we did a series that hurt so bad for several days afterward that I told my teacher. She’s great about making adjustments as needed. She said that, if it hurt more than a day, that was a sign I had done too much. I enjoyed that series, but we need to tone it down. #gyrotonics #overdoingit #accommodation

    • I’ve never heard of gyrotonics and I’m excited to look into it now! I have also learned that some pain is ok. There is a “delicious” kind of pain that Zepplin and Gail talk about above, and I know and welcome that pain! There’s also the kind of pain that tells me that I’m overdoing it. Sometimes these are sharp pains that limit my motion and make me recoil. Other times these pains only manifest themselves in the day after I’ve finished my exercise. That pain tells me that I’ve overdone it the day before, but it takes some time to learn ones body and recognize that will be too much when you don’t feel the pain as your exercising! Great point.
      #hurtssogood #goodpainbadpain

      Rachel Carriere

        There is a studio locator at the site if you want to try a class. My teacher was nice in letting me try at a discount before I signed on for classes. I hope you can find a place near you! #gyrotonics

    • Thank you so much for sharing Gyrotonics with us, Midan! I watched the video in the link you provided called “The Kitchen is Your Body”. At the end they showed the students in the class actually doing the movements. It looked so peaceful and “zen”, while providing a full range of motion and an all-over stretch. It puts me in mind of Tai Chi and yoga in that way.
      And I found myself spontaneously breathing more deeply as I watched! I will have to look into this. :-)
      #gentleworkout #trysomethingnew

      Gail Moser
  • I am actually training for a half marathon right now. I have never trained this hard before and my goal is merely to finish the race, injury-free, even if I never do another race like this again.

    When I set my goal of “injury-free”, I was mainly thinking about my joints and muscles. They have been totally fine. But as my training sessions grew longer and more intense, I noticed that the ends of my toes were developing blisters and eventually they got so I couldn’t ignore them any more – I had to buy new shoes that had a bigger toe box and that were half a size bigger (did you know that your feet change size as they age? I didn’t). I’m four weeks away from the race now so I hope hope hope my toes are healed by race day.

    The training for it means I am running five days a week, I have one cross-training day and one rest day. The runs are three short, one mid and one long one, with the rest day falling the day after the long run. It’s a good thing, because I am usually depleted of energy after that long run. I have noticed that as I get to have more endurance, the short runs are getting easier and I can feel myself getting twitchy when it’s been too long since my last run, indicating it’s time to get moving. (The irony is that I’m tired all the time so it’s hard to get moving, but I have already paid the race registration fee, so I am committed!)  #exerciseisgoodforyou #keepmoving #injuryfreeexercise

    • Good luck!!

      Rachel Carriere
  • I started running cross country in high school and increased my mileage to 9-12 miles before joining the military.  After joining the military, I would run 2x a day on a 3-mile route.  Once before work and once after work.  My husband and I ran together and, after we moved to Anchorage AK, we joined the Road Runners there and began training for the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon, which we both finished!  (Yay, us!)  I remained an avid runner up until my condition was kicked off during my deployment.  (I ran pregnant, I ran with my first son in a stroller every evening after I had him, and we ran as a family with our son in the stroller.  It felt fantastic!)  Up to that point, I was up every morning before the sun rose (the only time there was a chance to see clouds, sweet clouds, during the summer there) to get my run in (and to beat the uber-oppressive heat in the UAE).  After I had my first episode (thinking, “I wonder how long it will be before they find my body” <– that’s how bad it was) I could barely move in the mornings… forget trying to run.  I haven’t been able to run the same since.  No matter how much I stretch now my shins feel so tight it’s hard to lift my feet… it affects my walking at times, too.  My right hip locks up on me (stabbing pain and gasping-level hurt).  I worked my way back up to 5 miles a couple times a week when we were in Italy and always felt that “I’m alive!” pain with a big smile on my face.  It’s the “I feel as though I’m dying” pain and the sheer exhaustion that keeps me from being able to be consistent anymore.  I actually went for a really easy 1.5 mile “plod” yesterday morning and still feel pretty good today.  Given I’ve been reading that aerobic activity helps with the pain/depression, I’m going to try to stick with it without overdoing it.  If I can do that, there’s hope for a bit of relief…  (fingers crossed)

  • Movement is my gift to the world, is my strength. I have experienced all kinds of movement, therefore “exercise” has disappeared from my vocabulary. Trained/training in qigong, I am blessed to know what subtle movement is and what strength training is.

    My body yells at me when I don’t move. It almost intentionally cramps me up, pains me in certain spots and says, “take that!” I apologize, do better and actually have started to resuscitate my knees quite by accident! I took a new training in abhyanga massage and the rubbing of sesame oil all over my body while I meditate in the morning has given new life to my legs.

    When I walk down the stairs in the morning without thinking about it, normally rather than one step at a time, I know I’m having a good time and am inspired to keep the momentum rolling.



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