After four months of battling with a concussion, I quickly became desperate for solutions. I was having chronic headaches every single day and though I had taken a lot of time out of my day to rest and “heal”, I still saw no improvements. Every day began to look the same, I would go to school for half a day, come home with a headache and immediately go to bed, where I would sleep for at least three hours. The increasing amount of time that I spent in my house and shut off from the world began to depress me. So with the extra time on my hands, I began to do extensive research on post-concussion syndrome, as well as people who had and had yet to overcome the condition. I soon came across a particular blog about a man who had recovered from a brain injury caused by a car accident. It took him thirteen months to recover. (Here is the link to his story). It is a really good read and his story is super inspiring! It was here that I learned about the “Expose & Recovery” theory, as well as how he utilized exercise to recover. The idea behind expose and recovery treatment is that you expose yourself to whatever makes you irritated, rest, and then try it again. Over time your brain will adjust and familiarize itself with the stimuli.
It was with this advice that I decided to give this theory a shot, I had nothing to lose. Plus, the workout plan that he completed gave me some form of structure and control that I did not have before. I created a five day workout schedule very similar to that of the man on the blog, but modified it to my liking.
Before we get into what this daily workout routine looked like, I must note:
For this workout routine I utilized little to no workout gear. The only items I used are listed below!
Yoga Mats: https://amzn.to/2MjpVjS
Half Balance Ball: https://amzn.to/2T4KLG
*I am not a doctor, this is all based off of my own personal experience. Please be sure to always talk with your doctor.*
I always started my workouts by taking a walk/jog outside. I think this is the most important part. Why? Well, like I said before the goal is to expose yourself to stimuli that you would be in contact with on a normal day. The outdoors are full of various smells, sights, temperatures, and more. In order to heal, you must let go of the idea that you must stay shut up in your house and away from anything and everything that makes you uncomfortable. The truth is you need to be out in the world to retrain your brain to normalcy. Again, this is for those who have had a concussion for at least 3 months and are battling with post-concussion syndrome.
After I completed my jog, I would come indoors for the remainder of the workout, which included high knee steps, Russian twists, left/right side planks, lunges, squats, and more. (Full workout plan at the bottom) When I first started the workout plan, I felt like absolute crap. I remember during the first week I could barely make it through the workout, my head would pound and I would become dizzy. I questioned if I was truly doing the right thing, but as the blog that I read stated, the first two weeks would be super difficult, but you have to continue. Sure enough, this was true and after about a week and a half I felt significantly better. I was able to complete the full exercise and my headaches began to decrease in severity, it was extremely encouraging.
I began the workout routines in April 2018 and did them consistently for about a month and half, as I started to get better I cut down the number of workouts that I completed to about 2 or 3 a week. Even though I had started the exercise routine, I would still have setbacks and bad days. But the difference was that when I did have a setback or bad day, it would not last as long nor would be as severe. For example, instead of having a super intense setback with booming headaches, nausea, and dizziness, a setback would be more mild and I would get a headache in one area of my head instead of all three. The “new” setbacks that I had also did not last as long, so instead of my setbacks lasting two weeks they would last for day or two and I’d be back to normal the next. I was really amazed with my improvement. The improvements were not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Exercising really helped boost my energy levels and helped combat my feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. For the first time, I found something that I could actually do. For the first time, I had some control back in my life.
Exercising was not the only thing that I started, I also implemented daily vestibular exercises and diet changes; which also played a huge role in my full recovery.
Here is the exercise routine that I completed daily. I completed the workouts similarly to how you would complete a circuit, doing each one (except the running/walk outside, of course) a total of three times.
Remember, you will feel like absolute crap the first week or two that is normal. Persevere it will get better!!