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As a reminder, we are not licensed medical providers, physical therapists or personal trainers at WellTheory. We cannot take the place of qualified health care professionals and the information below is for educational purposes. Please always consult your medical team before engaging in physical activity and with any other concerns or questions regarding your unique medical situations and needs.

Kristina Wong, WellTheory Health Coach

Cautions Around Movement

Below are few cautions and considerations around movement.

Check-in With Your Doctors Before Movement and as Needed

  • Check-in your your doctors or practitioners to find out:
  • if any of your your specific symptoms, conditions, medications or treatments need special attention or could be made worse with increased activity
  • what items or symptoms, if any, you should pay attention to while engaging in movement
  • for what symptoms or in what circumstances, if any, you should or may need to seek medical attention
  • Example questions to ask:
  • Given my conditions and symptoms do I have any specific risks I should be aware before starting movement? Do any of my medications have side effects that I should watch out for before, during or after movement?

Know Your Conditions and Your Symptoms

  • Educate yourself and stay informed about your condition/s, medication/s, supplement/s and/or treatment/s, especially as they relate to movement.
  • Take the time to get to get to know and listen to your body, your condition/s, and your symptoms as well as your tendencies (like under or overdoing it).
  • Why? This is incredibly important for being able to make informed and empowered decisions of when it is right for you to start, pause or stop exercise or movement.

Know Your Limits and When to Stop

“Do not do more today than you can completely recover from by tomorrow.” — Greg McKeown, Effortless
  • More is NOT always better. For some of us, we may need to let go of “all or nothing” thinking, or “no pain, no gain” mindsets around movement. Find ways to engage in movement that do not cause pain, worsen your symptoms, or create so much soreness the next couple days it hinders your participation in daily activities.
  • Be aware of how you feel before, during and after movement. Use this info to determine if any adjustments are needed to your movement. Remember, you can adjust the type of movement, how long you move, how hard you move, or how often you move.
  • Use your experiences to learn and inform your limitations and when to stop. For many of us, our days do not look the same everyday and life has a tendency to throw curve balls. What was okay one day, may be too much another day.
  • Learnings from these experiences are important to build up your wisdom to know: “Today, how am I feeling and is my body ready for this type and amount of movement? And will I be able to recover from this or still be able to do what I need to tomorrow?”

Being Aware of When to Potentially Reduce, Adapt, or Not Move

Being in touch with your body - symptoms, energy levels, physical abilities - as well as other various lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, food, hydration) will help you make informed and empowered decision as to when to adjust your movement routine. Knowing when NOT to move is especially important as to not overdo it and have a long recovery time, worsen or create new symptoms, or cause flares.

Below are some instances when you might consider reducing, adapting or deferring movement:

  • you have a physically strenuous day or multiple days that is near, at or past your physical capacity
  • you are in pain or are in a flare AND moving would make your symptoms worse
  • you have not slept well and are exhausted (resting might be a higher priority over movement)
  • there are extreme temperatures outside and inside and there are no safe alternative movement options
  • you are starting new or making changes to medications or treatments that may impact your ability to move safely
  • you are recovering from a recent medical procedure (defer to the instructions from the medical team treating you)

Ways to Adapt Movement for Pain and Symptoms

  • Adjust the body parts that you move. If you have lower back pain, stretch or workout your calves.
  • Adjust the type of movement: cardio, stretching, or strengthening. If you're tired, do a short strengthening exercise.
  • Adjust how often, how long, or how hard you move. Instead of 30 minutes, move for 10 minutes three times over the day.
  • Opt for rest, reflection, or restoration time.

Additional tips:

  • Listen and honor what your body is telling you.
  • Think about what you CAN do.
  • Think about what opportunities are now open to you now that weren’t before.

Take Action: Ways to Adapt Movement for Pain and Symptoms

Handout: Ways to Adapt Movement for Pain and Symptoms

Let’s face it, for many of us with autoimmune conditions we have symptoms a lot of the time or most of the time. If we chose not to move when we weren’t feeling well, we would NEVER move!

In this activity you’ll pick a few symptoms you frequently experience and identify 1-2 ways you can adapt movement so that you can participate in it. Use what you learned above, and feel free to reference the material as you apply this information to your own experiences.


There are times when we should NOT move or defer our movement. For you, list out what might be one or two instances when you should:

  1. Not start or participate in movement
  2. Stop the movement you are doing

There are other times when we may not be feeling well, but CAN still engage in movement but may need to adapt it to participate. List 2-3 types of pain, symptoms, or other circumstances that you experience and 1-2 ways you can adapt movement to still participate in them.

Thinking back to the movement option you are focusing on, are there any instances when you would not do it or when and how you’d you adapt it due to symptoms?

Reflecting on this activity, what have you learned about yourself or how you might adapt movement when you are in pain or have symptoms?

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