ChiRunning and Walking Principles Help Recover from Surgery

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Last week, I had laparoscopic surgery in my right abdomen to correct a defect in the lowest rib. I was told to walk as much as possible (after I slept all day Tuesday!) to help dissipate the gas from the laparoscopic procedure. Thanks to the focuses and principles of ChiRunning and Walking, and putting these principles to practice, the recovery is coming along nicely.  I’d like to share what I’ve been focusing on, and how it’s affected my recovery. I hope it can benefit you, should you find yourself in a similar situation.

  • Alignment. Maintaining a tall spine (and solid column – shoulders, hips and ankles lined up) and stable pelvis help open the waist, allowing room for the rib area to handle the post surgery swelling. If I slump at all, my body tells me right away. 
  • Core. In addition to the alignment, remembering the 'Sit Up in Your Chair' exercise plays a big part in my ability to rise up out of a chair without stressing the obliques, especially on the surgical site. It shifts all the work to my lower abs, creating stability and efficient movement. Without this focus, I'd be in a lot more pain moving in and out of transitions!
  • Arm Swing. That's right! Have you noticed how you hold your arms when you walk? When you don't move your arms, it creates an inertia your body has to overcome. I notice more if I'm not swinging my arms, especially if I relax them, allowing them to move naturally as I walk. That arm swing also helps to pump lymph fluid through – great for healing!
  • Breathing. Pain can make one hold tension, especially in tender spots. In addition, muscles that have been traumatized in the trunk area, either from an injury or surgery, need some gentle movement as the healing process takes place. Breathing deeply, without forcing, is a good way to bring gentle stretching from within, and movement to sore ribs. An added benefit is an overall calmness as the body goes into a parasympathetic state.
  • Gradual progress. Being patient with recovery is key to proper healing! I'm respectful of my body and what it's telling me. If I need to go lay down, I do it. I don't push through anything. I'm supposed to walk as much as I can for two weeks, and then resume usual activity, letting pain be my guide. I am already noticing how movement gets easier each day, and my energy lasts a little longer. As the rule of gradual progress goes, each step forms a stable foundation for the next step. Baby steps are slowly being replaced with big girl steps!

Another benefit I noticed is that allowing a gentle pelvic rotation served as a massage to the obliques. Getting gentle movement through that area is essential for good recovery. The bottom line is that the principles of ChiRunning and Walking make it a practice you can (and should) carry into your everyday movement. You never know when you will need it to get you through some rough times, be it in a race or in life!. I'm looking forward to returning to ChiRunning soon, but in the meantime, I'll keep ChiWalking my way to better health!

Posted in Technique, Lifestyle

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