Recovering from an illness requires a lot energy and rest. This is more evident if you are a mom with a neurological diagnosis like Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Resuming a normal routine after illness takes time, self-compassion and patience. Many moms with MS wonder how or when to start exercising again. While this may sound daunting or the last thing on the to-do list, starting gradually with breathing and postural exercises can help make all the difference.
Listen to your body and do not start exercising if you are still feeling ill. Ask your medical provider if you can exercise with residual symptoms or when to return to your fitness routine; every situation is different.
So why start with breathing and postural exercises?
When we are ill, we are taking more shallow breaths, moving less and maintaining certain positions for comfort. These factors can greatly impact our posture and ability to take deep breaths. By working on our posture and breathing, we can reduce inflammation and risk of secondary infections such as pneumonia, decrease pain, increase energy levels and aid in the recovery process; all of which help with MS too! Many moms with and without MS have also reported less stress when implementing these exercises in the beginning of recovery, when appropriate.
How often should I try these exercises in the beginning?
Start with a few repetitions for 1-4 sets per day. The amount of exercise you do depends on your energy level. Remember, quality over quantity! Gradually build up with increased repetitions and longer holds depending on the exercise. Gentle and slow movement are key when bouncing back after an illness. Continue to rest and listen to your body.
What exercises should I start with?
Start with diaphragmatic breathing in sitting or lying down (whichever is more comfortable) and then integrate it into movement such as neck rotation, scapular retraction, cat/camel yoga pose, bridge pose, etc. Do not hold your breath!!! Adapt the movements as needed. Gradually add in stability and strength training 1-3 days per week. Aerobic and balance exercises tend to be added later on when more energy is regained.
When can I resume my normal exercise or fitness routine?
This greatly depends on:
1. How you’re feeling
2. If you have any lingering symptoms
3. Your energy level
4. Your schedule while trying to catch up after an illness
Household activities can also count as exercise, so don’t push yourself too much. Some examples include laundry, cooking, dusting or vacuuming or supervising kids.
Every illness can present differently and this blog does not address all the possible symptoms or potential outcomes when incorporating these exercises. Reach out to a medical professional to determine the optimal guidelines to return to exercise after an illness. This blog is not a substitute for medical advice or physical therapy. If your symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.