Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Benefits of Biking! (and yoga ;)

Biked to the annual Holi Festival at a local Krishna Temple
I've planned to do this post many times. I've written it up and deleted it, several times. In fact, I even did it yesterday (in a spontaneous burst) which came out a bit gargled and difficult to read... so I'm rehashing it a bit. Mostly for the reason that despite this post not being quite as thoughtful as my normal writing, it is still important. In fact, it's got some bare-bones advice that really has made a difference in my life. So here we go.

When I first wanted to do this post, I wanted to do more research. I stuck to my neuro-roots and I set out to read various articles that supported or opposed the theory that exercise can reduce endometriosis symptoms. I wanted to be my science/argumentative self. But then I realized that the joys and benefits I get out of exercise have their benefits with or without the science proof! I know, scary for a nerd like me. Research is not the important factor here. Instead, I just want to tell my experience and, maybe later, in another post, I'll share some of the research and readings I've done to make me have unquestioning faith in these activities.

First off, if you have endometriosis, know someone with endometriosis, might know someone with endometriosis--listen up! Exercise is a VITAL part of maintaining my health. True, exercise is a vital part of maintaining anyone's health. It makes a life span longer in years with higher quality years. A favorite comic strip of mine shows a patient at a doctor's appointment, showing the major flaw of a common complaint "I don't have time to exercise." The truth is, everyone should try and make time to exercise. The benefits of exercise for health are so multidimensional that there is no way I could cover them in a single blog post. However, one of the great things about exercise, in relation to endometriosis specifically, is that it can be a great therapeutic tool for endometriosis.

Exercise has been a VITAL part of maintaining my pain. Much of the pain that comes from endometriosis is scar tissue and concentrated endometriosis implants secreting inflammatory chemicals. When you exercise and move around, it helps keep that awful nonsense from forming. Well, more accurately, it helps prevent it from aggregating in large clumps. Scar tissue comes from the build up of endometrial cells in places that it really should not grow, causing an inflammatory response. By moving around excessively, one can help prevent that concentration from remaining stagnant and increasing to the larger, endometrial implant size.

My personal favorite forms of exercise are biking and yoga. Cycling moves my legs quite a bit and shifts around my lower pelvic region. This is a desirable goal for me, as the light movements can, over time, break up scar tissue and implants that concentrate there. My most large/painful concentrations of endometrial implants are on/in my uterus ligaments. Often any movement (like walking/lifting) hurts me. However, by forcing lots of rhythmical and steady movement in concentrated time blocks of 20-90 minutes, it forces a lot of motion and shifting in those ligaments and helps keep the pain from getting out of control. Sometimes I have been in tears after cycling regiments, but I try to do at least 20 minutes every day. I want to make it as difficult as possible for endometrial implants to hang out in my abdominal and pelvic cavities. In the long run, my pain is much better when I reliably cycle.

Now for yoga... what an amazing form of exercise! It is impossible for me to express what Vinyasa Yoga has done for my endometriosis pain. I admit I am still in some level of pain every day (some days worst than others). But that pain is better managed and more tolerable when I consistently perform daily yoga routines. Vinyasa Yoga is a very health focused style of yoga. It is my favorite form and someday I hope to be a licensed Yoga instructor for this style of Yoga specifically.  The stretching, breathing, motions, and rhythmical flow of Vinyasa Yoga is amazing for ones health. Check it out, take a class. It's not the Americanized Yoga that has turned Yoga into Pilates. It's good for ones health, lungs, heart, muscles, and... of course... endometriosis!

Concerning Endometriosis, Yoga has much more benefit beyond the exercise/stretching that most exercises provide for inflammatory diseases. It's primary benefit is in the reduction of pain experience. Yoga promotes relaxation and soothing of tension. A lot pain for endometriosis is, to put it simply, from inflamed, agitated, and often tugged muscle tissue tensing up and neurons signaling a consequential pain experience. The soothing nature of the breathing/poses/concentration of yoga help to reduce tension and relax the muscles/organs of the body. I like to think of it as a reset button. Additionally, Yoga helps to manage the actual sensation of pain. It can stabilize the pain signaling coming from the body in relation to endometriosis (helping to regulate pain sensation and reduce spontaneous or over-active signaling) and it can encourage the body to release natural painkillers.

So yes, short entry (and a bit bungled to be truthful), but I just wanted to say: if you have Endometriosis, do Yoga and ride a bike! And if you don't have Endometriosis... do Yoga and ride a bike!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka, Happy Kwanza, happy Winter Solstice...  whatever you celebrate, good will to all and I personally will enjoy celebrating family and the birth of Christ myself! (And I'm particularly grateful for that... I was going to have a surgery this weekend and dodged that bullet! Yey!)

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Contact me at bedhead@bedriddenhead.com

About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.