Video: Daily Exercise – Hip Abductors

Disclaimer: Please consult your appropriate healthcare professionals before making changes to your exercise routine.

This is a new exercise given to me by my physiotherapist that I have found helpful for hip strengthening and pain reduction. What are your favourite hip exercises? As always, keep making the most of it with your exercise routines!

Video: Daily Exercise – Cleaning

If you never thought of cleaning as exercise, I’m about to blow your mind. So we all know that movement is important. And when you have a chronic illness, even getting some light exercise in daily can be extremely beneficial to your health and overall wellbeing. Cleaning is a great way to do that. Sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, taking out the garbage…you’re literally moving your whole body while you do these chores. This is one of the places where changing our outlook on something can really help us! If you’re feeling a bit hopeless about where to start or about whether you can do some cleaning for exercise, check out this podcast episode on creative hopelessness.

Hopefully you can get your body moving this week and keep making the most of it!

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6 Ways I’m Managing a Weather-Caused Flare (+ 5 More Ways I Could)

Long title, I know. But nonetheless I thought I’d share some of my tips with you, plus a few other evidence-based ones I found online as I’m trying to get through this. I’m writing this exactly one week before it will be published so fingers crossed that it’s over by the time you’re reading it, but if not, then I’ll just have to accept it as it is. My flare is likely caused by a few things. First, I recently moved and moving is stressful (even a relatively easy move like I had) and stress can cause a flare. Second, I moved from a dry climate in the interior of British Columbia to the wet, lower mainland of BC. I always notice my symptoms, especially pain gets worse when it rains… but then I knowingly moved to a rainy climate (*face palm*). All jokes aside, my symptoms are increased pain, increased fatigue, really bad jaw pain, my left foot is super veiny and sore (my calf is fine though so unlikely anything super serious). How the heck can I manage all of this?

Even on a flare I’ve managed to explore my new neighborhood.
  1. Acceptance. Yes, I know some of you are rolling your eyes or saying that this is ridiculous or unlikely to work. But I find it does. I accept that my pain is here, while knowing that the intensity changes hour by hour, sometimes even minute by minute, and I know that when my flare is over I’ll go back to baseline. Acceptance is helpful. I’ve been doing body scans and other mindfulness activities to help with the acceptance, but honestly just acknowledging my experience without getting wrapped up in it is helpful. Check out this acceptance practice.
  2. Exercise, Movement and Stretching. If you read this blog regularly you know that I like to exercise. And I still pace myself by trying to stay consistent with what I do. I definitely increase my stretching during flares. Particularly I focus on the areas that seem to hurt or need it the most. For example, my jaw is the worst today as I write this, and I’ve made sure to do jaw stretches throughout the day. For more on jaw pain specifically, check out this podcast episode with Dr. Shirazi.
  3. Warm Baths. I LOVE my baths. I literally take a bath 4-5x a week in the winter months. And with the rain, I’m definitely needing them. They help relax my muscles, keep me warm, and are very relaxing. Trust me when I say I could never (and would never) live in an apartment without a bathtub. Knowing what is vital to your self-care is essential to dealing with a flare. Check out this podcast episode on it.
  4. Dressing Warmly and in Layers. Vancouver, if you’ve never been, is a city where everyone dresses in layers. It will likely rain at some point during the day, though you never know exactly when. It could also start off cool and warm up, or vice versa. So I’ve been making sure to put on 3 layers when I go out, and have a pair of mittens on me. I need to remember a hat and/or an umbrella, but I’m working on it!
  5. Hydration. I tend to drink a lot of water. Admittedly more when I’m working. Staying on top of my water intake is so important to managing my flares and really my health! I’m trying to drink 5 full glasses of water a day minimum. I basically keep a glass of water next to me all day and every time it’s empty, I refill it. Listen to my podcast conversation with Beau Berman about gut health and how important drinking water is to him.
  6. Omega-3’s and Vitamin D. I typically try to get these from the foods I eat. Lots of fish mostly (rich in both), as well as mushrooms, spinach, avocado and tofu and really a variety of others foods are rich in vitamin D. These are really important for reducing inflammation naturally and honestly are just really good for you! Also, Vitamin D is a way to combat with the “winter blues” (which I often get) and the more severe, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So those are the 6 things that I am doing, but what are the 5 things that I’m not but probably should be?

  1. Acupuncture. This is actually an evidence-based and recommended treatment for chronic pain. I’ve had it in the past and I’m hoping to start back up with bi-monthly sessions next month. Listen to the podcast episode on recommended treatments for chronic pain for more info.
  2. Massage. I miss getting massages. It’s been nearly a year since I had one, and this is also a service I used to get bi-monthly. I’ll likely also start these back up soon as well. Clearly I need to. The benefits of massage can be heard in the podcast episode with Danielle Potvin.
  3. NSAIDs. I’m not a fan of these drugs to be honest. They can cause stomach problems when on them long term. I’ve drastically cut back on them and only take them to supplement the more natural medications I take (i.e., CBD). If you’re aware of the risks and find them helpful then this can be a helpful solution.
  4. Natural supplements. The only natural supplement I currently take is magnesium bis-glycinate which is a muscle relaxant (and I mainly use it when I’m menstruating). Other recommended supplements are fish oil, ginger (which I sometimes have in food and/or tea), turmeric (which I sometimes have in tea), and gingko. These are definitely worth checking out to use in addition to some of the other suggestions.
  5. Limit Stress. Oh I can’t wait until I’m passed the stress of the move and starting up new counselling practices. The truth is there is always some kind of stress in our lives and it really comes down to how we manage stress. I typically do a good job with mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and relaxation practices. So this might just be a reminder to do a bit more of that. And also, if you are able to avoid stress then that’s a good plan (I do not plan on moving again for quite some time!).
Taking it easy on Halloween. Needed some time to relax after the move.

So that’s it! 11 ways in total to manage a flare. Keep making the most of it everyone!

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Video: Daily Exercise – Elbows & Wrists

These are some exercises that I use to make sure I’m getting sufficient movement in my elbows and wrists, especially when they feel tight and/or sore. Remember, exercise isn’t always about strength or cardio; for chronic illness warriors it’s often about getting different types of movement because it is helpful in keeping our bodies going. However, if you want some more information on weight loss, check out this podcast episode (with Dr. Francell Hamilton). And please consult with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise.

Happy moving, and keep making the most of it everyone!

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Video: Daily Exercise – Mountain Hikes

This is not for the faint of heart. To be honest, this is great if you’ve been building up your exercise game and if you do some hiking already. I did a video post last year on more gentle hikes, which are a fantastic alternative to going for a walk. This is kind of levelling up those gentle hikes. Yes, I do this even with chronic pain. Why? Because I love hiking, and will take the time to recover (for example, the day after I did this I did a channel float where I sat on a tube for 3 hours and floated down a channel/river). Remember to please consult with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise. Alright, take care and keep making the most of it!

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Daily Stretches: Shoulders

This week I decided to share with you some stretches that I like for my shoulders (that also give a bit of a stretch in the upper back and biceps). Stretching is so important, so I encourage you all to incorporate more of it into your lives. As always, please consult with your healthcare professionals to ensure you are doing stretches properly and safely.

Take care and keep making the most of it!

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Daily Exercise: Mini Golf

Sorry about the sound quality. It was raining and the mini golf course had a fountain nearby.

Who says mini golf isn’t exercise?! Any kind of movement, especially if you haven’t really been doing any because of your condition, is good movement! So let’s keep it fun and easy and just take our exercise regimes one step… or one put… at a time. Please consult with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise. If that made you laugh, then check out this podcast episode on how humour can improve your well-being when you have a chronic illness. And of course, keep making the most of it!

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Daily Yoga: Hip Openers

This week we’re doing some more yoga postures that I absolutely love for the hips: reclined butterfly and a butterfly forward fold. I find they help with a nice stretch in my hips, which is something I need. As always, please consult with your healthcare team before making any lifestyle changes, such as adding yoga. If you already do yoga, I’d love to hear if you like these poses or what poses you do. Until next week, keep making the most of it everyone!

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Daily Exercise: Golf

This week we’re exploring golf as an option to incorporate some movement as chronic pain/illness warriors. Like all of the exercise options we explore, this won’t be for everyone, however I found that there were some nice advantages because it’s a non-intensive way to incorporate movement. And movement, as we know, is so important for chronic pain. Please consult with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise. It also ties in nicely to this week’s podcast episode on self-care, which you can check out here.

Let me know if you hit some balls, and keep making the most of it!

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Daily Stretches: Yoga for Low Back

These are two of my favourite yin yoga poses for low back. There are particularly helpful if you have low back pain or if you feel any tightness in that area. I have found that movement, including yoga, has been extremely helpful for my chronic pain.

Keep making the most of it everyone!

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