Friday, 9 September 2016

Pain for Gain

The phrase often goes "no pain, no gain," but rarely is that actually the case for an EDS sufferer. Normally pain is just a fact of life and you gain nothing from it but tiredness and if you're real lucky (that's sarcasm folks) then you get to have exhaustion, insomnia, and all sorts of fun and games.

One thing that I have had to try and teach myself about lately though is "good" pain... the "getting gains" type of pain... Ever since I started using the gym, going to pilates and trying to get fitter this year, I have been having to try and learn this good pain.

Trying to differentiate between the burning pain of working out, and the bad pain that is your joints protesting their inability is a hard one. At times it's near-on impossible to differentiate and if you get it wrong, it can be really bad.

I stopped working out in June until just this month... I don't really know why I stopped other than pure laziness. I did the odd day here and there and tried to eat a bit healthy but mostly I slipped back into my old ways. I wrote about a bad flare I had as a result of this back in July... I also know I wrote about trying to get motivated again in August. It didn't work... but I'm getting there now. I'm using weights and the last few times I have really felt the burn.

One of the main things I have been told on more than one occasion is that I need to strengthen my core. This is because your core is where an awful lot of your stability comes from. Zebras with EDS will know that one of the fun old symptoms of it can included a loss of balance and co-ordination. I'm a big old tick in that box. I regularly fall over thin air and I have lost count of how many times I have fallen into my desk or miscalculated where it is in relation to my body at work... My legs are a living testament to this as they are black and blue with bruises. But I digress.

So, working to improve my core strength is a big goal of what I am trying to achieve. I'm also trying to improve my leg strength to better stabilise my joints, work on the strength of my arms as I have zero upper body strength... and just generally improve my fitness. So I use weights and various exercises that work a whole bunch of these things together... But I have really had to learn between what is the pain of my thigh muscles working hard and improving, and what is my hip bone grinding away more of the cartilage.

It's a difficult journey and it's hard to learn. I don't always get it right, but I am getting stronger. Now I get to have days where I can moan about my legs and arms hurting, but I get to follow it with the phrase "but it's good pain." It's the pain that tells me my muscles have been worked hard and are going to get stronger from. It's not the pain that leaves me feeling like my world is falling apart.

So fellow zebras, please try and remember that there is good pain and bad pain. It's just a case of learning how to achieve one without the other, and maybe achieving the good pain might assist with limiting the bad pain....

I'm currently obsessed with my kettle bell weight (only a measly 3kg but present enough of a challenge for my weeks limbs) and my hand weights (a bulkier 2.5kg each.... these are blooming hard work and in hindsight I should have ordered 2kg. They didn't have them on the shelf when I was making my purchase though, and 1kg was too little, and I was impatient.)

What exercises do you like to do? Have you tried weight training?

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