Tips on Helping Your Chronic Body Recover After Starting a New Active Lifestyle

Alright! I did it! I’ve been able to start walking down a path of a healthier lifestyle by including exercise into my life.

Why can I lift my arms?
Why do I feel so bummed out?

I’m so sore.
I can barely wake up.
I can’t turn my neck.

What’s going on with my back?
Please middle toe, stop crossing over my other toe!
This charley horse is going to kill me!

Yeah, I’ve been there. I’m still there. Although I’m fortunate to see a medical team once a week to help put me back together, I’m left to fend for myself the rest of the time. I took the time to ask what I can do to help myself in-between appointments.

The first and foremost requirement that both the brain and body’s needs at any level. When you have any chronic mental or physical issue, don’t be surprised if you need double the downtime to recover properly. This looks different for everyone. If you’re doing a titration/detox off any pills like myself, remember that withdrawal causes extra stress on the body. Try to balance light exercise with more intense as too much stress can amplify those withdrawal symptoms. I’m also against more than two days in bed. Walk around, do light cleaning, yoga and stretching etc. No movement what-so-ever for even short periods can set you back. Check-in with yourself. If it’s laying in bed, do things non-stimulating so that you don’t tense up unconsciously (no scary movies or thrilling TV dramas).

Proper Food
Giving your body as many nutrients while it’s down is like taking an antibiotic when you have a bad bacterial infection. Stick with lean proteins, and an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to have a pantry that looks like an organic food store, just be sure to balance your meals. Try to up your water intake and limit beverage that can agitate the nervous system (pop, coffee, some teas).

Epsom Salt Bath
I started doing this after a long chat with a registered massage therapist. When the Epsom is exposed to water, it breaks down into magnesium, which then is absorbed into the skin. This is an advantage as if you have any sort of digestion issues that causes vitamin absorption issues, it can build up through tissues. Add the heat from the water: it soothes tense muscles, helps with achy joints, and can help with digestion.

I’ll soak for 12-15 minutes after my stretching from any sort of exercise. The science is still out on this tactic, but placebo or no, after about a month of doing this five days a week, my muscle recovery time has become faster. Since my skin is sensitive, I use anything without added colors or smells.

Pressure Point Massaging and Stretching
Painful, but it’s worth it. If I find any sort of tightness, feel restriction, or feel a knot in my muscle, I’ll first find a stretch for that muscle, then massage it out. I’ll apply pressure to an area for 5-10 seconds at at time (yes it does hurt) then release. I’ll then massage the area with gentle pressure in a circular motion. I continue doing so until moment has returned, or the pain has turned into a dull ache. For places I can’t reach, or where I need a bit more strength, I’ll use anything round and sturdy. Golf balls and/or hard rubber bouncy balls for under the feet (helps with toe spasms and shin splints), and tennis ball/dryer ball for in-between my shoulder blades (lean on the wall with the ball in the spot, shifting back and forth with pressure).

Me pretty much every damn day.

Heat and cold
The jury’s out on which is better, but using either is beneficial. If a muscle feels hot, I’ll ice the area, then put heat, then massage to the best of my ability. Some days it’s all about my Magic Bag: the heat releases stress tension by relaxing the muscles. Do your best to keep your body at a comfortable temperature so that you’re not tensing up unconsciously.

Pills and topical treatment are my last resort as going through withdrawal. If you don’t have this problem, by all means, use them with the discretion of a doctor.

The reason I avoid as much as I can is that I’m concerned about the cross-over effect on GABA in my system, and the effect on my stomach and liver. Due to benzodiazepine class drugs mimicking alcohol, I’ve experienced bad side effects even from Tylenol. I have used THC and CBD related cannabinoid products with varying effects. I’m cautions about those as they can have a rebound effect while weaning.

If you can master this, you’re a superstar. Keep reminding yourself that this isn’t forever, that it’s a part of the recovery process, and you’re doing yourself a favor. Okay, I’m sore today, them’s the breaks. Yup, I can’t move my neck, why don’t I try some of my techniques and see how that works? I’m sore today, better take it easy. Talk to yourself as you’d talk to someone you truly care about. Easier said than done, I know. Practice, practice, practice. I’ll reach out on social media for support if I cannot find the voice inside me that knows how to do proper self-talk.

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