A few weeks ago, I received a private message on my Facebook Fan page:
Hayley, love what you do and your attitude. Having said that, I am on FB with a large group of folks that have debilitating and invisible illnesses. Many of us are unable to care for our most basic daily needs… It would be soooo helpful if you could offer helpful methods of keeping the body moving and stretching in a bedfast position…
My new Facebook friend has Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), which is sometimes referred to as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. People with moderate cases of ME can become housebound, and in severe cases, patients can be bed-bound with a very low quality of life.
Whether the cause is a debilitating illness like ME, a disability, an injury, or even a pregnancy, many people can become bed-bound, which may ultimately lead to depression.
So, for my new Facebook friend, and for any of you in a similar situation, here are a few exercises you can do from your bed or right by your bed:
Head and Shoulder Circles
With a headboard or a few pillows propping you up, try loosening up the shoulders with some shoulder rolls and head circles. If possible, pick the head of one arm bone up, draw it back and then drop it back down. I like to do this every day, where I can open up my chest to allow an opening in my heart.
Isometrically contract your muscles. Just by contracting your muscles such as your abdominals, buttocks, triceps, biceps and quadriceps muscles, you can get them to strengthen.
Light Resistance Training
If you have access to light tubing or weights (soup cans will work), tone your muscles with a little extra resistance.
Depending on the type of bed rest, you might try wall push-ups. Sit or stand facing a wall and place your hands shoulder height and shoulder distance apart on it. Inhale as you bring your chest closer to the wall and then exhale as you push away.
These are a great way to tone your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. They will also relieve some of the tension and compression in your lumbar spine that results from a lack of activity. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor or on your bed.
Lengthen your tailbone towards your heels and then slightly curl it up between your legs towards your pubic bone.
Reverse and go the other way so that you feel a mini extension in your lumbar spine. It is so important to bring that natural curve back into your spine. Your lumbar may feel really tight the first time you start extending it so be gentle on yourself but keep doing it!
To enhance the circulation in your legs and feet, try ankle circles and leg lifts. Leg lifts can be done lying prone or on your side. Depending on the type of bed rest you are on, they can also be done with added resistance like ankle weights.
These simple exercises may not feel the same as being able to get out there and going for a run or hit the slopes but isn’t the goal to simply feel good, to embrace yourself and to love your body? Whatever body you have right now?
It’s not the destination but the path you’re on to get there.