Today I would like to talk about the Boom and Bust cycle that is common in people with chronic pain and ways that you can work with your body to improve your ‘fitness’ levels.
Please click on the above link to show an image of the boom and bust cycle. This is typically when your pain levels are good you overdo your daily activities in a bid to ‘catch’ up with all the things you haven’t done. The next day, or in the following days your pain levels typically increase, leading you to decrease your activity levels for fear of hurting yourself even more. Then when you start to feel better you increase your activity levels again to make up for all of the things that you haven’t been able to do…
Each time you go round the Boom and Bust cycle the risk is you lose muscle strength and fitness every time you reach the Bust phase and have to rest. Eventually your overall fitness is likely to decline dramatically, so that when you start to move again and start previous activities it feels harder and the pain levels are higher than they may have been to start with.
This cycle is very easy to get trapped in. Especially if you try to ignore pain signals and try to push through the pain to lead a ‘normal’ home and work life.
This was a really hard lesson for me to learn when I first started the Breathworks program. I was a very physically fit person and had a history of pushing my body to its limits, both at the gym and with running. This frantic exercise schedule was very hard to let go of initially and I struggled to adapt to my new reality.
However it can be done…
A really integral part of the Breathworks training is pacing. You will learn on the eight week course how to keep a diary of your activities for seven days. You rate the pain scores after each of your activities. You learn what things make your pain worse and what makes the pain better. Then of the activities that make your pain worse you learn how to reduce the time spent on the activities, to find your optimum baseline. Basically the amount of time you can spend on the activity without it increasing your pain.
On week three of the course we will also talk about mindful movements, a series of safe physical movements that you can do to reconnect with your body and breath. I will do a separate blog about mindful movement and add some videos on this to my Facebook page ‘BreathworksMK’, to give you a flavour of what this involves.
I now combine mindful movements, pacing of daily activities, yoga, Sh’Bam and lots of walking outside in nature to keep my body and mind in optimum condition.
Here is a photo of me and my little family on our walk yesterday around a local lake.