With an illness like lupus, engaging in daily activities can have an element of uncertainty. On some days, doing 25 jumping jacks can be a snap. On others, simply swinging your legs out of bed exhausts you like you’ve just run a marathon. I recall, in particular, a period of time where every joint in my body ached, and swollen nodes on the bottom of my feet caused horrific pain with any pressure. All I could bear wearing on my feet were slippers – the only shoes that didn’t constrain or cause pain. Was I going lace up the sneaks to try and fit in some exercise? No way!
Fast forward a few years, and I am healthy and stable, and stronger than ever. My workouts (about 4-5 days per week) include cardio, leg work, weights and abs – a far cry from what I was limited to when my disease was active. But I recently incorporated a new activity into my present workout routine – stretching – which would have been a perfect solution when my lupus was flaring years ago.
Stretching for 10 minutes in the morning has been so refreshing. It literally gets my blood flowing, and while I know it sounds cheesy, I feel so alive afterward. I do legs and back, arms and neck, and I am amazed at how much tightness I have as I begin. The first day I stretched, I got up off the floor afterward to walk to the bathroom, and realized how smooth and loose I was. I wasn’t hobbling as I often did, though I never even considered it hobbling. I thought it was just old-lady-early morning-tightness syndrome, certainly not due to lupus or a lack of stretching!
I find my stretching regimen to be relaxing, invigorating and a wonderful way to check in with my body each morning. So much of disease management is about self and body awareness. Stretching would have been a wonderful way to take stock of my lupus symptom-ridden body every day. I could have made notes in my KnowYourMeds tracking app, noting how I felt day-to-day. I could have reported back to my doctor with more precision and accuracy on how my body was feeling. Most days, I couldn’t keep straight when my pain came or went, or how bad it was from one day to the next!
I hope you give stretching a go. If you do, or have your own helpful daily activity routine, be sure to let me know. Happy stretching!