Saying that weight lifting has alleviated my symptoms is a little over-simplified.
Muscle growth seems to have lessened my pain by at least 50% but here I sit in between sets on Shoulder/Chest day with a flare brewing in my left leg. So the act of picking things up and putting them back down isn’t directly alleviating my pain. I don’t have pain in my arms and then go do bicep curls, for example. Rather, doing bicep curls will prevent household tasks like taking out the trash from causing a flare. As I get stronger, tasks get easier so I’m at much lower risk of my illnesses rearing their ugly heads. Strength is like pain prevention, in other words.
It may not make sense because don’t I willingly put myself through the pain of working out? Well, being sore is my choice. Having a meaningless flare isn’t. Painfully pushing through that final rep through gritted teeth is my choice. Losing feeling in my hands and feet isn’t. At least my pain is in control with strength training. That kind of control is non-existent with chronic pain conditions. If there were a way to control chronic pain, it wouldn’t be chronic. And it’s pain that I know is productive, that does my body good so I feel better about myself each time I walk into my gym.
And here’s the fun part! Everyday tasks I’ve noticed don’t hurt me anymore:
- That stubborn cross-threaded beer faucet at one of my accounts that I haven’t had the strength to remove until just recently.
- Carrying my 30-40lb metal canisters at work.
- Changing the cat litter
- Moving furniture
- Opening jars (lol I don’t need a man!)
- Lifting Lucy, my dog, into my car
- Moving kegs
- Walking up the steps to the weight room
- Carrying groceries (there is no such thing as a “second trip”)
- Driving one-handed (you underestimate the level of gimp I used to be)
- Pitching my tent for camping
The list goes on, really. For example, I moved my giant queen mattress all by myself today like it was the weight of a wet water noodle. No big deal. I am not taking these experiences for granted either. I notice when things feel easier because it’s such a relief!
So those are my findings. Weight lifting is like pain prevention. It’s not a quick fix like taking a pill or applying a heating pad, but it’s given me control over my life by making every day tasks easier. It empowers me, keeps me focused, and is a great stress outlet. I really can’t recommend it enough 🙂
Thanks for reading!