A woman exercising in the water.

Going Back to the Basics

I think this pandemic has been useful in terms of revising what works and doesn’t work for me in terms of managing AxSpa. Being at home a lot, sitting too long, has reminded me that a sedentary lifestyle is not good for me!

This is even more useful now that I have made changes in my career to be working more remotely, i.e. working more from home. Saving me from those tiring commutes and uncomfortable desk settings is key for my wellbeing.

The sedentary life has affected my body

But there’s a risk in there for me to indeed become more and more sedentary and it is already affecting me physically. New pain arose, and annoyingly some old pain came back. I had two massive flares in my knee in the past when I was not taking any treatment. Even though there’s nothing on x-rays, showing there’s no obvious damage, I’ve had from time to time some pain in that joint. It has become more present now and I have decided to investigate it.

It feels very much like going back to the basics: talking to the GP about it to get a referral to see a physiotherapist and see what we can do about this knee. Because I am doing group physiotherapy sessions for people with AxSpa every week, I haven’t been to see a physiotherapist for individual appointments for years.

I think the regular exercise I was getting before Covid, particularly the hydrotherapy pool, was doing a great deal for strengthening my muscles and lowering my pain level. I now realize how much I missed that! So I went to see the physiotherapist and put my advocate hat on to get the best care possible. It went well as I managed to get referred to the hydrotherapy pool for four sessions, and I got a prescription to access the gym at a reduced rate and do targeted exercises for my knee.

My old routine

Although I am doing all this because of a specific physical symptom, gym and hydrotherapy sessions used to be my weekly routine for at least five years before we all had to stay at home. That reinforces the importance of routines when they work for our condition.

I got into the hydrotherapy pool a couple of weeks ago, after a break of 18 months, and this was just the best thing ever for my body, my joints, my wellbeing! I loved my session and felt like a different human being afterwards. Now I cannot wait to go to the gym and get those exercises done so I will see if this helps with my knee pain. I am not a massive fan of going to the gym, as I do prefer exercising outdoors. Yet again, I realize how much I have missed our gym sessions in person with a physiotherapist.

Zoom just isn't the same

For all these months since March 2020, we have exercised at home with a physiotherapist on Zoom. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful that we could carry on exercising together once a week. But for me, these online sessions don’t replace the face-to-face session we can do with the right equipment.

I know the hydrotherapy pools are in danger in the UK with some closing down and others being at risk of not opening again post-pandemic. There is an ongoing campaign to keep them running and reopen them as soon as it’s possible whilst keeping everyone safe. They are so important for the management of AxSpa, together with gym sessions where people can exercise with a professional, get advice, and do adapted series of exercises to keep us fit, keep our pain under control, and mobilize our precious joints.

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