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Fear of Exercise

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Muskey1867, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. Muskey1867

    Muskey1867 New Member

    i’ve had severe TMS which causes my right foot and leg to be in extreme pain for over two years. I have tried everything like most and have had significant improvement with Dr. Sarno’s method which I discovered about 4 months ago. Unfortunately I still have some pain which comes and goes in my right foot and leg. I am still hesitant to exercise. Mostly because the trigger that caused my pain was when I was exercising at the gym, specifically lifting weights. Of course this was reinforced when I saw many clinicians who told me not to do this or that. I have done some light exercise but it hasn’t been consistent or near to the level I was at. I was hoping for some support and tips on how to get back to the gym running and lifting weights like I used to.
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Musky1867,

    I used a mantra with each step I took, as I learned to be pain-free with this method. It was both self-encouraging and truthful. You can experiment and play with different "mantra" (repeated phrase) to find something that feels truthful and supportive, and you can break into pieces for running, for instance.

    My walking one was "you can stop the pain; I am willing to feel my emotions." I broke this into those phrases, one for each step. Used it for months.

    Another approach is a simple affirmation every time you notice the fear arising, for instance as you're doing your weights.

    I also started very slowly and worked up over time. Others take a more courageous approach. Either will work.

    Andy B
    Free of Fear and HattieNC like this.
  3. Adventureseeker

    Adventureseeker Peer Supporter


    Probably you still have some pain because of your fear of exercise. My true healing came when I found the courage to break into a run one day (just for a few meters, but it was something I had been fearing). I kept telling myself that there was no need and no reason for me to be in pain - I said this before, during and after any exercise. If the pain started, I laughed it off, I scolded it as if it was an annoying child. Try it - you will only every heal completely if you stop fearing the exercise (I know it's hard!)
    Free of Fear likes this.
  4. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    Great advice from Andy and Adventure.

    Exercise was a big part of my recovery as well. I had to forget what the 'experts' told me and get back to doing what I loved. Now I'm running and working on weighted squats.

    If you had told me three months ago that I would be doing these things now, it would have blown my mind. Exercising helped me believe in myself again and believe that all these things were possible and that I wasn't fragile and that movement is good and safe.

    In terms of the nuts and bolts of it, each person has to figure out what speed and scale works best for them. Some people dive in, while others scale up. Whatever way you go about it, practice outcome independence (focus on completing the activity, not the sensations) again and again, not giving up ground if it hurts a bit. For me, I challenged myself to do something new each time, so that I had more and more proof that I could do more than I thought I could.

    A mantra I used when running and lifting weights again was saying with each rep, things like, 'I am safe, this is safe, this is good for me, I love exercising, I do what I want, I lift as much as want, I run as long as I want, I want this, etc.' I can't emphasize using affirmations enough. Each exercise is an opportunity to move again, to expand your functioning again, if you meet it properly.

    Also there's a good video in my signature below, the Peter O'Sullivan one, several people talking about the progress they made exercising again, forgetting about form, etc, it's really good and maybe inspiration for you.

    Looking forward to hearing how it goes!
    stargazer likes this.
  5. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    All great advice – I especially love the phrase, “focus on completing the activity, not the sensations.” What are your thoughts on using these techniques for all movement in general?

    For example, I have trouble bending over to pick something up off the floor, leaning over the sink to wash my hands, taking something heavy out of the oven, etc. I also have trouble getting on and up off the toilet (just the sitting to standing motion). This isn’t “exercise” that I’m attempting to add to my life again. These are literally just things that can’t be avoided…

    I believe I remember reading Dr. Sarno write that we shouldn’t attempt physical activity until the concept of TMS has sunk in. And he also wrote that fear can keep the pain alive just as much. So for me, knowing these things, I feel so stuck with the fear of ALL movement. Did you guys start from a place like this before you attempted exercising again?

    I’ve been doing affirmations for a little over a month now. Mostly, “I love myself”, “I am safe”, “It is safe for me to feel my emotions” and “I am healed.” Do you suggest I think of a mantra each time I do a movement that causes pain (such as, “It is safe for me to bend over”, etc.), or does that give the pain too much importance?
  6. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Pemberley,

    I think you may have a misunderstanding here. If your daily activities such as using the toilet trigger pain, then there is no direction to avoid them. The guidance is to do them, and work with the pain and fear of the pain, thinking psycholocially, using supportive statements, working with mindfulness, and so on. Do them and know there is nothing physically wrong with you, and that you're not causing any damage to yourself.

    Your statements seem nice to me.

    I would use affirmations any time it occurs to you. Especially when there is fear. I don't think you're focusing too much on the pain in this regard. You're addressing the fear.
    stargazer, Pemberley and Free of Fear like this.
  7. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    Thanks, Andy!

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