Living with chronic injuries and chronic conditions

As an Exercise Physiologist (EP) I have read many client’s reports and I can’t help but imagine what pain this person is in, how they must be feeling but most of all how they move, what they are restricted in and how can I change this. I invite you all to read the below description and take a moment to imagine this person and think how they might adapt movements to avoid pain, what exercise they could and could not do, how are they affected in daily life?

“Patient is 26 years old, 156cm tall and 59kg. They present with multiple chronic musculoskeletal injuries and conditions with various presentations. They present with left side shoulder bursitis and episodes of frozen shoulder lasting days at a time, arthritis at T6/T7 vertebra due to a previous fracture, scoliosis and Scheuermann’s disease of the thoracic spine, hypermobile joints resulting in joint instability and subluxations of shoulders, left hip and knees, left hip bursitis and left knee ACL partial tear.”

So, this person has injuries and conditions affecting almost every part of their body, I want you to try and imagine how this person walks, climbs stairs or even sits down into a chair.

Well, thank you for taking the time to think about me!

I had years of pain, movement dysfunction and avoidance behaviours that I have had to overcome so that I could enjoy my life. At 26 it is disheartening to think that I have damaged almost everything in my body and that I have another 70 odd years in this body left. Through becoming an Accredited Exercise Physiologist I gained much needed education on the body and used my experiences with my knowledge to live as pain free and with as few restrictions as possible. In the last six years I have learnt a lot about my body and how to move it effectively to avoid injury and pain. I have also moved away from the traditional thinking that there are only specific ways to do certain movements, because those movements weren’t made for my body and I can’t do them in those ways without causing trauma.

I love sport and I give everything a go, I can do this due to my strength-based training and yoga practice. My strength training is never the same and is targeted so that my shoulders are strong enough to surf for hours on end without dislocating, that my knee doesn’t give way when playing soccer and that if I come off my mountain bike all my joints stay where they are meant to be. My yoga practice is a lot of mindful movement and checking in with my body and what it is needing. I do my training and yoga in the comfort of my home as I don’t need people coming up in the gym to tell me I am squatting wrong, that I need more “core strength” for my posture, or me becoming competitive in a class and injuring myself. At home I do everything at what ever pace I feel on the day and modify movements to what my body feels is pain-free.

Chronic painful conditions regardless of where or what it is, can be completely debilitating in every aspect of your life and becomes this vicious pain cycle that you need to choose to break and take control of. As someone who has been through it and worked with many others and assisted them to accept the conditions but not to accept limitations, it makes the next 70 odd years of life ahead of me seem exciting and limitless rather than limited and filled with pain.

It isn’t an easy journey and most of us have no idea where to start, if this is you I would love to help you take the first steps into movement for improvement in all aspects of your life. Give me a call, drop an email or come check out our clinic in Como.

Tiara Williams (B.Sc. – Exercise Physiology)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) (ESSAM)

 

References:

Hodges PW, Smeets R. Interaction Between Pain, Movement, and Physical Activity: Short-term Benefits, Long-term Consequences, and Targets for Treatment. The Clinical Journal of Pain. 2005;31: 97-107. doi:10.1097/AJP.0000000000000098

Hayden JA, van Tulder MW, Tomlinson G. Systematic Review: Strategies for Using Exercise Therapy To Improve Outcomes in Chronic Low Back Pain. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142:776–785. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-9-200505030-00014

Chiesa A, Serretti A. Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2011;17:83-93. Doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0546