Personal trainer helping a person with psoriatic arthritis do an exercise

Movement Practice and the Way It Made Me Stronger

Last updated: August 2022

Early last year, I was scrolling through Instagram somewhat mindlessly (which is often how I engage—or not—with social media, which is something for a different post and a different day).

Learning about a new way to manage PsA pain and inflammation

I saw a startlingly beautiful image of a friendly acquaintance, a woman who shops at my bookshop whom I love catching up with when we cross paths. She’s lovely as she is, but there was something special about this selfie she’d shared: she looked like she was glowing. Before reading her caption, I wondered if she—like many 30-somethings I know—was perhaps about to announce her pregnancy.

Nope—my gut reaction was wrong. But she was, in a sense, announcing a birth. Her own rebirth. Don’t worry—I’m not going fully new-agey here. I’m sharing something I think will resonate with those of us with chronic pain and inflammation.

This friend wrote about how she had been suffering from debilitating back pain for a long enough time that she thought it was going to be a part of her life forever. She’d tried lots of interventions, lots of anti-inflammatory drugs, lots of alternative and traditional (Western-wise) treatments. No dice.

Movement practice testimonials from PsA patients

She was posting because she was proud and because she was feeling significantly better: she had decided to give movement practice a try. Her testimonial was eye-opening for me. I read it at a time when I was achy and sad, feeling like an occasional slave (or at least an indentured servant) to the chronic back pain I have that’s related to my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis.

So I looked into it. The friend had tagged a local company, Athens Movement Practice, in her post. She praised one of the practitioners there for teaching her about moving her body in a more deliberate, healthy way. I figured I had nothing to lose and booked an appointment with the trainers.

Trying out movement practice for psoriatic arthritis

My first in-depth consultation was eye-opening. Jessica and Marvin talked to me for a while before I moved forward with a full evaluation. I did this whole routine of movements; they analyzed and scored me not by how “good” I was but by what my range of movement was on each side of my body. Imagine my surprise to find out that when I was walking “straight” I actually was off-kilter. And when I raised one hand at a time as high as I could, one was higher due to one of my shoulders having limited range of motion. Whaaaatt?

The trainers used the evaluation combined with our in-person conversation to create a program for me—just me!—to get my body more symmetrical. They said that 30-minute sessions would be fine for me (even after I told them I felt like a wimp for opting for 30 minutes instead of 45 or 60). They insisted that I’d be ready to quit and/or yell at them by the time I hit 30 minutes and that 30 minutes would be all I’d need for now. And boy, were they right!

Goals of movement practice

My first few sessions kicked my butt. A couple of times I told them I simply couldn’t/wouldn’t do something. But mostly I kept up, and the minutes flew by. I learned more about my body and the way the muscles, bones, and ligaments work together than I had in years. I felt empowered knowing that the exercises I was being guided through were for my specific benefit, to get me more aligned and healthy before trying to build muscle (which was my stated goal when I first met my trainer).

Truth be told, I haven’t been to Athens Movement Practice in awhile—trust me when I say that the reasons for this are myriad and complicated but that I’m working on saving up some cash to return in 2020.

Even the term “personal training” used to make me want to hide under my covers—why embarrass myself in front of a trainer who would easily see how weak I was? Why risk exhausting myself or working with someone who didn’t understand my body’s strengths and limits as they’re related to chronic illness?

Benefits of movement practice for my PsA

With my local movement practice coaches, I found people who dedicated their time just to me and my body. I felt safe and knew I wouldn’t be pressured to do anything that didn’t feel right or work well for my body.

Now that I’ve written this, I’m hankering to go again and get that exhausted, my-booty-just-got-thoroughly-kicked feeling.

Have you ever found an exercise program that really helped you understand your body better? Do you have any tips or tricks for working with trainers when it comes to teaching them about your illness and the way it manifests itself in your body?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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