Rehabilitation Tips to Improve Active Lifestyle


A Herd of Elk on Oregan Coast Near Seaside

    Anyone that has experienced rehabilitation after physical injury, illness or disease understands nursing oneself back to health presents a huge undertaking.  This is especially true if the disability setback is long enduring.  And, or the disability is permanent and you need to learn how to work around the trigger pain(s) to get work done.

     It is also most certain that when you become injured, or disabled for long periods of time, a whole new set of emotions you’ve never experienced impact the psychosomatic (mind-body) connective wire ways.  This occurs first through physical limitation and pain.  Then if an injury converts to long-term chronic care conditions that include significant pain challenges, then depression can further affect the body’s ability to resist susceptibility to other illness and disease.

     And then the third component of being (soul-spirit) can further be challenged which also can impact one significantly.  Without a well developed understanding of how a 3-part being (mind, body, soul-spirit) perceives a traumatic and painful event; understand “any” long-term rehabilitation process can create other illness and disease challenges through depressed feelings of being.  The goal during any rehabilitation phase is to stabilize a chronic condition and learn to live with limitation challenges the best you can [if this is the case], “without dwelling on what you can no longer do.”  With this understanding and from this point forward, your quality of living experiences can and will improve!

     Pain does not discriminate with only one part of being [physical]; it also challenges our mental and spiritual health.   It stands to reason, if you have a fit-healthy encompassing being (mind, body, soul-spirit) before “any” stress, or disability event occurs; a much better processing of the pain adversity that follows will be much easier to deal with.

     Now, let me get back to rehabilitating self after a stressful life event has occurred; or after injury-surgery, or you now experience illness and/or disease pain.

      After talking to many people that had similar rehabilitative physical and mental pain challenges, I find we had commonalities that put us on the fast track mend while learning to manage our pain.  And I’m here today to share these commonalities through tips that appear to make a significant difference in lifting ones spirit to get up and active with life after adversity strikes.

     First of all, be realistic about the extent of your illness, disease, or injury; in doing so you can then begin to heal yourself.   I’ve found by understanding my limitations and working around pain triggers, I have improved upon my daily productivity and quality of life experiences while alleviating pain.  Listed below are lessons learned that helped me to work around my daily pain challenges.  In realizing and accepting these personal experiences as truths, I’ve been able to move forward with my life “productively” in a way I could never have thought otherwise.

1.   First, realize you have a physical/or mental limitation that may/may not be permanent.  And may be further aggravated into insidious illness or disease. If you don’t understand what activity will exasperate, aggravate and excel the pain condition(s); you must also know, by not changing activity habits per pain threshold (pain intolerance) and mental acceptance of change, you may likely cause further decline in overall health.

2.   To allow a physical limitation(s) to control your mental ability in living a productive fit-healthy lifestyle relative to pain challenges, will put further ill-health stress on being.

3.   Understand mental limitation also impacts physical activity.  When mental road blocks tell you, you can’t participate in activities; it also begins to tell you, you can’t participate in “any” activity.  This is absolutely an untruth conjured within the conscious mind.  You are capable of other forms of activities.  Soul search to find a new activity you can participate in.

4.   You can rehabilitate yourself around pain triggers.  Trigger pains can occur throughout the mind and body.  Your medical provider, pain specialist, physical therapist can work with you to provide many tools you’ll need to alleviate pain for better quality living experiences. 

5.  Humans are social creatures by nature and have need of social contact.  Without social contact the mind can become depressed leading one to become recluse from society.  And through a depressed mindset often follows physical-mental illness and disease.  You must find social interactivity with friends and family in order to maintain a healthy mind-spirit.  This in turn provides the physical-mental being more tolerance to “pain intolerance.”

6.   Humans desire and crave activity.  From the beginnings of time, man was designed to walk and accomplish work.  Our bodies and minds require exercise activity.  And walking is the best form of aerobic, fat burning exercise to accomplish all we need in life.  Walking is the best metabolic enhancer and centurion secret to long healthy living experiences.  If you cannot walk, there are other interactive physical activities to participate in.  Work with your physical therapists and rehabilitation personnel to tap local medical resources, educational workshops, therapeutic sessions, etc., to develop lifelong activity programs appropriate for your rehabilitative and fit-healthy needs.

7.   You must learn to advocate for timely and applicable medical care.  When you feel ill, or pain for too long, you must seek medical advisement.  To push off long-term illness can eclipse into acute and chronic pain disease.

8.   You must not become addicted to pharmaceuticals.  Take medications as prescribed by your physician.  If you become addicted to medications seek help from your primary care physician, or pain management specialist.  Addiction to pain killers for example has the potential to create many more secondary problems that can only complicate your particular mind, body and spirit-soul pain.

9.   Understand how important daily activity is to your overall rehabilitation success.  Without structured daily physical therapy and/or activity exercise the body will take longer to heal.  Inactivity will have an adverse effect on your mental thought processes and hamper will power to effectively change your physical and pain situation.  To compromise “will power” for lack of an active exercise plan will depress your entire being.  And when you become depressed in mind, body and spirit “being” is susceptible to further pain aggravation, illness and disease.

10.  You must not think with a social disability expectation.   In other words, do not allow yourself to believe you are disabled, even if limited mobility is the case.  You must understand, even when you have physical, or mental limitations you can reinvent your lifestyle to accommodate any physical challenge.  If you believe mentally you are disabled physically, your quality of living experiences will become just that, a limitation in your abilities to maintain social and mobile interactivity.  And regardless of disability severity, “believe it or not,” it is possible to enjoy better quality living conditions if your mindset does not limit your belief in what you can and cannot do.  As I’ve experienced, when real physical limitations are placed on mobility it requires one to retool the way you think in an approach to living life to the fullest.

11.   Take control of your life and lead your way through recovery.  I’ve found to lead my way through anything in life is much better than following anyone’s “long-term” advice on how to get through a difficult and personal physical-mental challenge.  This is because it’s easy for people to render a personal opinion based on what they feel is right for you.  Remember, they don’t feel, or think your pain-limitation challenges daily.  The point is, we all know inherently what each of our physical and mental limitations are, however, many of us have been conditioned by others making decisions for us.  It is now time for you to take control of your life, especially if you are now having difficulties through a rehabilitation, illness, disease or chronic pain scenario.  Only in this way can you begin to mend in a way that is fit-healthy for you.

12.  Instill belief in self that quality living experiences are in your future.  You must believe you can change your condition for the better if you stay consistent and work your rehabilitation, or pain management program.  You also must be prepared to partake in a program that could take months, or years before obtaining 50% of your physical abilities back for example.  There must be acceptance that in the end [if this is the case], if 50% is gained in activity ability, this becomes your new 100% physical capability [with limitations].  Activity goal setting is an important tool when programming activity plans through rehabilitation.  In knowing ill-health adversity experiences is not the end of quality living activities; instead, can become a new and exciting life experience.

13.  Don’t accept negative feedback.  I can’t tell you how many times I was told I’d most likely need assistive devices to walk for the rest of my life.  I didn’t accept this consult from my physicians.  Although, I surely thought it was a possibility.  In other words, I accepted the possibility of limited mobility disability but worked my physical therapy and exercise activity faithfully.  After 4 years of self-rehabilitation, I’m now free of assistive walking devices since 2008.  The point here, the mind-body conduit is a powerful electro-neuron stimulator.  If you believe you can physically do something to where you were unable at one point, the mind is capable of rewiring movement around pain.  I’m now capable of walking 10-14miles per day and am now working to get my 1996 upper body bulk fitness build back.  Can I achieve this goal?  I won’t know until I try.  Follow me in future eBook publications and I will share my rehabilitation and fitness stories (See, our home site Books page).

14.  Always present to your medical providers a fitness plan during the rehabilitation portion of your program while working through the rehabilitation process.  This is important why?  Because, all too often after a life changing event we return back to old habits that may have contributed to our inpatient stay.  It is important to realize fit-healthy life changing habits must continue after any rehabilitation treatment picture.  To do any less is to experience more suffering and pain then necessary.  I find it helpful while working with the medical community during the rehabilitation phase of recovery to compare fitness activity notes.  This way one can make the best informed decision for the best daily activity exercise with less risk of aggravation and secondary injury.  To have a physician, or specialists input on your daily activity, or exercise program goals helps you to customize a fit-healthy program that’s safe and right for you.

15.  What should the fitness plan look like?  The plan should look right for you.  In other words you know what your interests are and you also know your capabilities and limitations.  If you are more social, gage your activities around social activities.  If you are more physically active, interact in some form of daily movement activity.  If you are somewhere in-between, inter mix activities that put you into a socially interactive fitness environment.  Either way, you gain body-mind interactivity within the world around you.  This is fit-healthy for your 3-part being (mind, body and soul-spirit).

16.  Sustain healthy activity and habits for life.  Regardless of whether you’ve experienced a significant physical or mental pain challenge is not the point here.  The point is ill-health prevention and preparedness for the challenges that we will all experience is a must to alleviate pain experiences, “especially during the aging process.”  And we all can minimize our life pain experiences by learning to take charge of our own pain, stress, depression, malnutrition, addictions, illness, and disease and rehabilitation predicaments early on in life.  To do otherwise is to create more pain and suffering upon ourselves and our loved ones.

17.  Educate yourself on your condition.  Through education and understanding your illness, disease and rehabilitative life challenges will mitigate the ill-health effect and mobility limitation you may otherwise impose upon yourself [knowingly, or unknowingly].  Through education on your medical condition(s); an effective plan in preparation of what will ensue through the rehabilitation phase for example, will help increase your will power to pull through the physical therapy phase of recovery.  In knowing this you can discuss your life fitness activity ideals with your medical providers.  Allow them to make their recommended safe activity limitation input.  But you get to make the final decision on how you proceed with your life activities from that point forward.

     We all have a purpose in life.  And only our maker knows why we must experience pain adversity.  Also, it is important to note, had I listened to all of the medical opinion with regard to my mobility limitations, I would have limited myself possibly to a wheel chair, or assistive walking devices for life. 

     Don’t allow a social disability expectation and addictions to this expectation prevent you from living a quality of life that could otherwise be.  All too often, we listen to others that don’t understand what’s in our best interest.  They have their interests of not wanting to see us suffer.  You really can’t blame your loved ones for that, but in many cases this doesn’t help the one that is experiencing the pain challenges.  It is good for you to understand caring about a loved one’s comfort is human nature and you should expect this to occur.  But also, in this light you need to understand, you don’t have to proceed to limit yourself from participating in life to the fullest, especially if you are capable!

     What I needed was a good kick in the ass to get myself out of a rut.  We’ll nobody could do this for me; I kicked my own butt mentally by telling myself I was capable.  And you know what, I was!  Besides, I was getting pretty tired of feeling sorry for myself and others feeling bad for me.  This was enough for me… I had enough pity.  Regardless of my life long limitation outcome, I was determined to work towards becoming the best I could be physically and mentally and interactive with life.

     Once I decided to accept my physical limitations everything got better.  The depression left, I learned to work around pain thresh holds that would keep most down and got my life back.

     You can do it to if you want it bad enough.  Never give up on yourself, or your family!

 Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @:,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

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