Spinal Cord Injury Pain, Physical Activity and Exercise
QUICK TIP 1
Physical activity is an important tool in your toolbox
QUICK TIP 2
Light exercise is recommended most days
Choose an activity you enjoy; set a goal, make a plan, start small and pace yourself
In this episode, you will learn about the importance of physical activity and exercise in maintaining your health and ultimately reducing your pain. It is important to maintain strength and flexibility in your muscles and joints.There are strategies to get you started, exercise resources and links. Use the ideas and tools to help plan and pace your activities to control for flare ups.
At the end of each video, go to the Health Plan link to record your progress and goals. Fill in the SCI Pain Questionnaire to help your Doctor or healthcare provider design a treatment program that is right for you.
Transcript: Spinal Cord Injury Pain, Physical Activity and Exercise
Has this been washed yet? I’ll give that a bit of a wash.
The most important things to me are to be able to live my life with my husband Jed and enjoy life.
And… Um… get out and experience the things that I have always enjoyed in life and explore new things and not be inhibited by Um… a serious pain condition.
And not let that control my life.
I just… I want to be able to, to just you know be free to do what it is that we want to do together.
Well I was always very physically active and my job, I had to be very physically fit for.
So I was running regularly, cycling and working out at the gym and just doing you know, general leisure activities.
And all of a sudden I couldn’t do those.
And… I… I was pretty… lost when I first realised what was happening… um… Because I thought those things are a very important part of our life.
You know, my husband’s and my life.
Yeah, so the spinal unit were fantastic in… the recreation officer there was able to show us all what sort of opportunities there were out there and what equipment was out there to be used… um… All sorts of ways of getting out and exploring, you know, recreation activities.
I had to set myself timeframes of… alright, I’m going to try pushing around the house.
I started… It sounds really daggy but… um… I just started pushing around the house… um… to get my muscle development happening and then… um… yeah… and working in the garden… um… But I did have to I did have to grade… um… my approach to it because if I pushed too hard the pain just became insane.
So… um… yeah, I really had to be very careful about how hard I pushed.
There are endless possibilities of what you can do in a chair.
You just have to be willing to look at doing something in a different way.
So my husband and I have bought kayaks and we’ve been kayaking with a group of our friends up and down the waterways along the coast here, which are pristine.
They’re just beautiful.
And that was incredibly freeing because it was like being able to bush walk again.
So I could get out.
I wasn’t in the chair.
Everyone is equal.
You know, nobodies got any disabilities when you’re out… paddling in the kayak.
And I’ve also been able to start skiing again in a sit-ski and that’s been a very exciting… journey.
That’s sort of been… I’ve been doing that for three years now… and absolutely loving the skiing.
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When I started out, particularly skiing was the first one Um… that I started with.
I wanted to be out there and not miss one minute and that’s a personality trait of mine.
Um… So my pain did go up quite significantly and I had an incredible pain episode that first year of skiing and what I realised is I just had to take breaks.
I had to stop every hour and get out of the sit-ski and just have a five minute rest.
Once I started doing that the pain changed and it changed quite significantly.
Um… And from then on that was my learning tool for… all my other activities.
To pace myself.
It’s been a really, a very big component of it.
Look at that, woo… I found initially that it increased my pain because I was suddenly getting a lot more active.
Um… But it was more the musculoskeletal sort of pain as opposed to the neuropathic pain.
Um… And… Um… And so long as I kept Um… the rest breaks up that the pain actually, the flare ups seemed to get further apart Um… the more active I was the more active I am, I should say.
Well I love that we’ve moved up to here, to Bermagui and we’ve set up our property so that we are reasonably self-sufficient.
Um… Both Jed and I work in the garden, in different areas of the garden.
Jed does what I can’t do.
It took me quite a bit to get… um… to balance out my pain with managing the garden cause I’ve always had a tendency for wanting to… get something done like to finish a task.
Um… if I set out to do something in a day.
But with the garden I sort of had to… take a step back so to speak and say “Alright, I can do what I can do today.
And once the pain gets too high, I’ve got to rest.
” And that was a really hard thing for me to do.
Changing my whole sort of makeup.
Of just bulldoze through and do everything.
Ah, fantastic, the girls… I've… um… was fortunate enough to have a really good OT come down and work with me.
Also Jed, my husband has helped um… significantly in… overcoming certain barriers.
Like raising garden beds and things like that.
And together with all of them they’ve been able to… um… make this whole… farm that we live on workable for me.
I’ve been able to… um… get ways of mobilising around our property by getting a scooter and having another chair for the garden… Um… And just getting everything set up so that it’s functional for what I need it to be.
And that way I can… um… be free to move around as I like.
And I can manage my life and get around and be a farmer I guess.
In a way.
All the modifications that I’ve had to equipment along the way have… have… um… been fantastic in improving my… access to well, to everything really… um… And… you find as you go along that you’re always changing equipment and moving bits of equipment around just to… Um… modify things to your own specific needs.
Yeah, the scooter is fantastic because I can actually can actually get around and work on fruit trees and help out Jed with some of the work that he does on the garden… um… But the great thing is I can actually carry my chair on the front of the scooter.
So I can actually get off at the destination and wheel around.
And ah… And it’s been fantastic for things like when the berries are in season.
I can drive the scooter up and load it up with the berries and drive it back and put them in the freezer and… you know it just helps with everything.
And… you know, prior to that I was pushing all that distance Um… in a manual wheelchair which was hurting my shoulders.
So yeah, It’s… a much more practical… approach to getting around this farm.
I’ve found it really important to keep up an exercise… um… regime and stretching regime.
Ah… to… because… your upper body is so intensively used once you’re in a chair it is so important to keep up …Um… an exercise regime and a stretching regime.
…Um… Yeah I have a routine that I do every day for strengthening and a separate stretching routine.
And… And actually recently while I was in America I started yoga and I really enjoyed that.
So I intend fully to take up yoga.
And that will be great for the stretching… side of things as well.
But it really is important.
And it’s important for your pain as well.
I look at when I’m faced with a challenge now I just look at ways of getting around that challenge, like to beat that challenge.
Throw me a challenge… I welcome it.
I think that’s what you almost have to do… to get passed a lot of this.
You just… you have to be willing to face challenges and… and get passed them.