It works!!


Day 8 of micro cardio workouts and it's thumbs up for this test, this actually helps my muscle pain! Lately I've had pretty bad neck pain and muscle pain daily, but I've noticed significant reduction this last week while testing out micro cardio workouts - even with certain slips. Maybe it's too soon to say for certain, but so far it definitely feels like getting my pulse up and circulation going for at least 90 seconds several times a day is helping on the general "aches and pains" and bringing my pain level down.

I'm going to keep working on cardio and see if that also helps my energy levels. If I have more energy I'll be able to get more active again after a bad pain period this winter. My goal is to be able to do a decent 4x4 interval session three times this week... without overdoing it.

Serendipity (and brain fog)


Ok, I admit, this cardio thing is turning out to be quite a challenge... maybe it's some kind of passive resistance, but it sort of feels like I have a non-stick teflon brain...I just keep "forgetting" to do the micro workouts... Ooooops ;) It's easy enough first thing in the morning, but as the day progresses I find myself sort of just.... not doing them.

But today I had some wonderful serendipitous flow! I had decided to treat myself to a spa day to celebrate the completion of 365 pain-free blog posts last year, and today was the day I had set aside. I've only just moved to Gothenburg so I didn't really know where to go, but a quick Google search led me to a couple places and I found which one was closest + seemed nicest and decided to go there. Hagabadet it is! Samuel is in London for work, so I had the day all to myself.

Hagabadet

When I got to Hagabadet, an amazing Jugend style old bath house converted to modern spa and gym facility, it turned out that just today was their annual "Open House" day, so everything was free, including entrance to gym, spa, pilates and yoga classes and trial treatments. They even threw in fika and gluten free cookies. Whaaaat? Just today? On my scheduled spa day?! And as if that wasn't enough, they had some super deals on their open house day, which resulted in me signing up for a very advantageous membership - so now I can train at this beautiful place and use the spa during daytime as often as I want for the same price as a regular gym card.

I celebrated by having an 8 minute cardio session on an elliptical trainer, and after surprisingly surviving that, signed up for my first session with a personal trainer next wednesday.

Yikes. I've been looking for a good place to work out in Gothenburg ever since I decided to move here last August, but I didn't think it'd just pop up like this... out of the blue? How fun! Hopefully this will be the beginning of many great exercise experiences in my new hometown. And hopefully I will live to blog about it;)

Pain relieving cardio



It's easy to fall into a negative pain spiral during the winter months. When the streets and sidewalks are covered with snow and ice as they are now, I tend to get stuck indoors a lot and gradually get less energy and more pain.

I know that increasing my heart rate regularly helps circulation, which directly affects my pain levels, increases my metabolism and releases pain relieving endorphins. But when getting to a gym and back takes more energy than I have, I need to start closer to home.

For a professional patient, exercise has to be easy to do at home and also fun.

Talking to personal trainers I have heard that increasing stamina is best done by adding short high intensity intervals. Adapted to my current state I've decided to start getting in better shape this week by doing micro cardio workouts 3 times a day to get my circulation going and my heart rate pumping. Starting with 3 x 90 seconds aerobic exercise either by dancing, stair climbing, squats or running in place I'll see if I can build up to 3 x 3 minutes by the end of the week, hoooray :)

Motivation is important here... but I know that the hardest thing is getting started, and once I start feeling results I will get a motivation boost!!

Straightening up

This week I found myself speaking in front of a large group of physiotherapists and chiropractors at the annual conference for the Norwegian chapter of the Bone and Joint Decade. I decided not to tell them about my little "working on my posture" project, as they all looked suspiciously healthy and pain-free... it sort of felt like we were living in different worlds.

Sometimes when I give talks about my story, people in the audience start crying. They laugh too, but that's sort of part of the deal, I use a lot of humor when talking about health and healing. But why do people cry when they hear about other people's pain? Is it just empathy, or does it awaken their own grief, something they don't often look at but maybe need to deal with? Sometimes it feels like by being a professional patient who has learned to live with her handicaps I am also being some kind of ambassador, reminding others that quality of life is not simply about "fitness of body".

While preparing for this conference I spent time working on my presentation, and realized that the posture thing was very very relevant. Body language and all that... But keeping a good posture when standing up and concentrating on it wasn't all that hard - and it definitely feels like it can make a BIG difference on my overall muscle pain.

While working on my posture this week I have just kept bringing my attention to it, checking and correcting as needed, maybe once or twice an hour, sometimes more often. For correcting my posture I have used this old technique I learned sometime in drama class, visualizing that there is a silk thread attached to the crown of my head, gently pulling me up and straightening my whole neck, spine and body.

It works really well when I sit too, and this week it's been really obvious that my neck pain (and in extension migraines) are very directly affected by my seated posture. Especially when I'm in front of my computer I have a tendency to slump and let my head fall forward, which I notice strains my neck muscles in a way that seems to provoke the whiplash pain with a delay of a few hours.

Ok. So first week of implementing gradual change feels very meaningful!!! I have learned important things about how HOW I use my body directly affects my physical pain.

Hmmmm... now what would be a natural next step? Will ponder this until tomorrow... :)

First weekly challenge...

Since it's my very first pain-free challenge, I want to start out with something basic yet important.

Posture.

My posture affects my pain. It's somehow the very basis of how I use my body... my physical "setpoint" in a way. A good posture improves circulation and decreases stress on muscles, tendons and discs, thereby preventing muscloskeletal pain and stimulating overall health.

I have average-to-alright posture I guess, but I have a tendency to slump my neck and shoulders, and a tendency to favor my right side. The slumping neck and shoulders really provokes the neck pain from my whiplash injury, this is something I know, yet keep forgetting... It can set off really bad migraines, but if I just remember to straighten my neck and tuck in my chin, many of those can be avoided.

When I continually favor my right side, I place extra strain on my lumbar spine, by building unbalanced musculature there.

I don't really know if I'll be able to do anything about this in just a week, I guess I have to start with building awareness, and maybe having a signal that reminds me to check and correct my posture every hour or so? When I get into it I may be able to start doing some balance training that promotes good posture, but as a beginning I think I'm just going to challenge myself to improve my posture as much as possible as often as possible this week.

... And I'll let you know how it goes...

Reboot...


...and enter 2011!!! It's been two weeks already, 12 days of which I have been a mostly horizontal, feverish and sniffling mess - trying to reason with a cold that turned nasty.

I have a little message for my readers and fellow pain survivors here at 365 pain-free days, and just because technology is so fun, I decided to do it in video:

video

New year, new challenges, right? Well I have decided to turn a leaf on my blogging, and start living as I learn. By implementing gradual change and focusing on one thing at a time, I wonder just how healthy I can become...