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Exercise is difficult for both abled and disabled people because everyone struggles with staying consistent with their workout routine, but it can be more difficult for disabled people because fitness is not accessible for a vast majority of disabled people. Disabled and abled people that have the ability to exercise should because heart disease that is caused by lack of movement does not discriminate and can happen to anyone. People with Hydrocephalus that do proper training can do advanced exercise routines but there are more challenges when working out with Hydrocephalus because you always have to be thinking about your shunt and neck tension is inevitable when doing any type of upper body workout. I started exercising regularly when I graduated high school which was a little over ten years ago and for the most part, I look forward to my routine but every time I exercise, I am reminded of my Hydrocephalus because I experience things that most people without my condition wouldn’t experience. How can you exercise safely when you have Hydrocephalus and experience a lot of neck tension? In this post, I am going to talk about some safety measure I take when exercising with Hydrocephalus.
Listen to your body– Fitness enthusiasts are always promoting the idea that if you are not in an incredible amount of pain that your exercise routine is not working but personally, I don’t agree with the no pain no gain approach to fitness and think that it’s an easy way to get injured. Lifting heavy weights is dangerous for anyone that isn’t lifting properly or are lifting weights that they can barely get off of the ground, but it can be even more dangerous for people with Hydrocephalus because if you are lifting too heavy it can cause something in your shunt tubing to snap. People with Hydrocephalus can lift heavy weights provided you are being smart about it and not trying to become a body builder on day and start bench pressing thirty pounds. I have been weightlifting since the day I started exercising and have made a ton progress on the weight I am able to lift but the way I do it is different because I have to be careful on the types of exercises I engage. Most people will get neck tension when doing an upper body workout but it’s different when you are Hydrocephalus because it can be even more uncomfortable and ignoring is not always the best move. If you have Hydrocephalus, I can stress enough how important it is to listen to your body and stop when the pain become unbearable because although a shunt is very durable and can handle weightlifting it can cause shunt problems if you are doing something too advanced that you shouldn’t be doing.
Ease into harder routines- My main focus when I exercise is weightlifting because I hate cardio with a passion and weightlifting can act as cardio if you are lifting heavy enough. I prefer to lift heavy weights because you can fatigue your muscles in half time, but I did not start out that way and the weight you see me lift today took over ten years to be able to do and my strength progress is really not that impressive. The first year I started working out I did not do the advanced exercises I do today and focused mostly on perfecting my form with body weight movements and as I got stronger, I was able to progress to light dumbbells which increased by strength to be able to lift the weight I can today without getting injured. On the first day, you start exercising it can be tempting to want to pick up a fifteen-pound dumbbell because fitness enthusiasts on the Internet are always telling you need to lift the heaviest weight possible to get results, but I don’t necessarily believe that is the smartest move for anyone looking to improve their strength, but it can be especially dangerous for people with Hydrocephalus. Start with an easier routine and as you get stronger ease into harder routines because strength takes time and it’s okay if you can’t do a lot the first day you start working out.
Try resistance training– Most people that start working do it to improve their health and are likely not going to be able to lift a lot of weight if any on the first day and that is okay. People often underestimate the power of resistance training and think that the only way to build strength is by lifting weights, but the truth is body weight movements work your body in a different way and can be just as effective as weighted routines. I love doing resistance and weighted exercises because neck tension is inevitable with all types of upper workouts and it’s the body weights movement that help you gain enough strength to be able to do the harder workouts with proper form. When I was recovering from hip replacement, I had a lot of hip precautions and for the first several months of my recovery I was not able to do a lot of exercises without violating hip precautions, but I continued to do seated resistance exercises and because I did, I did not lose a bunch of arm strength. If you are new exercise start with resistance training and work your way up to weighted workouts because body weight movements, put a lot less stress on your body and can make fitness more enjoyable especially if you live with Hydrocephalus. Body weight exercises doesn’t mean it’s easier because if you think about your arms do hold some weight and in my opinion some of the resistance exercises can be more difficult than the weighted ones.
Add pulses- When you gain strength and the reps become easier the first thing people often will do is get heavy weights. The heavier your weights are the more expensive they will be so what if you can afford to get new weights? The good news you don’t always have to get new weights and you do one of two things to continue making progress and you can either increase the intensity in your workout or add pulses to your shoulder presses which will take your exercise routine to a whole new level. You can add pulses to your exercises with or without weights and it will make your regular exercises a little bit harder.
Move around your house– Exercise can be hard for people with Hydrocephalus because sometimes you don’t have a lot of equipment or experience a lot of pain. If you don’t like to do standard workout routines that is okay because you can incorporate fitness in your life by simply moving around your house more.
Focus on other body parts- Upper body workouts sometimes can be difficult for people with Hydrocephalus because a lot of the time your shunt tubing is somewhere in your neck and can be aggravated by doing any type of upper body workout. I will do an upper body workout because I need good arm strength to be able to walk but I don’t prefer them and often will do more core workouts than upper body training. I wouldn’t completely stop doing upper body workouts, but I would put more focus on other body parts that don’t cause as much pain. A sit-up can sometimes cause neck tension but it’s not nearly as as a shoulder press which why I prefer Pilates over strength training.
Exercise with Hydrocephalus can be difficult because it sometimes causes more pain, but it is possible if you listen to your body and don’t try to lift fifteen pounds and become a bodybuilder on day one. Most people will experience neck pain when they do exercises that focus on your upper body but when you have Hydrocephalus it different because you experience pain that someone without Hydrocephalus wouldn’t experience. When you have Hydrocephalus and are exercising sometimes the temptation will be to ignore your neck tension which you can sometimes but that same time it’s important that you are aware of your body and know when it’s okay to be keep going and when you should stop. Be realistic with your fitness goals and try not to compare yourself to others because fitness doesn’t come overnight and it’s okay if you can’t do as many pushups as your best friend. These are things that help me exercise safely while living with Hydrocephalus, but I am only one individual and not everyone is going to be able to do as much exercise as I can and that is okay because everyone is different. How do you exercise with Hydrocephalus?
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