Gentle Arm Strengthening Exercise for Patients With Chronic Illness

When bedridden from illness or injury, you lose strength, muscles begin to atrophy and weaken, joints start to stiffen and more. The longer you remain inactive, the more difficult it will be to regain strength.

Perhaps most pressing is the fact that when bedridden you are prone to blood clots and bone deterioration (including spinal degradation) on the most extreme end, on the lighter end but still of importance is that the longer you are bed ridden the more prone you are to bed sores and even a decline in mental wellbeing (i.e. depression, boredom, feelings of hopelessness …all of which can delay healing or worsen one’s current state of health dramatically and can also be prompted by or exaggerated by inactivity and thus improved BY activity, such as gentle movement/bed exercises) 

Reverse Muscle Wasting With Gentle Strength Training

Therefore, it is important to begin working on regaining strength ASAP —as in, while you are still in bed …as in, NOW— to prevent muscle deterioration and joint stiffness. So, when you DO recover well enough to get out of bed, you will be much more limber and in better physical condition than you would otherwise be. Basically, by starting physical therapy while still bedridden rather than waiting until you are out of bed, you place yourself “ahead of the curve” so to speak. 

So, today, I am starting with a SUPER basic arm strengthening exercise you can do from bed —arm circles— starting with no weight. You can modify it to fit your needs. If you can only do 1 circle forward and 1 circle backwards without overextending yourself, do JUST that until you feel ready to move up to 2 and so on …and feel NO shame about it. Instead, give yourself a big HELL YEAH pat on the back for even lifting those beautiful arms. As time goes on, feel free to add light weights (light weights + more reps is better for your muscles and muscle recovery/strengthening than heavy weights and fewer reps). 

Like I said, this is intended to be a super gentle exercise to start building upper body/arm strength that you can do while bedridden, or even if you are someone who was recently bedridden and now wants to gently start strength training OR if you are someone who was never sick or injured but also never worked out and want to start slowly.

PS: If this seems easy peasy to you, or like it’s not worth your time and won’t work for you, know this: I did arm circles every day I did when bedridden for years (eventually adding on other arm strengthening exercises, as well as exercises to strengthen/target other body parts), and I now have enough upper body strength to do things I couldn’t even do before Lyme disease such as pull ups, many push ups, plank poses, forearm stands, and arm balancing yoga poses such as crow pose and eight angle pose. 

Make this your mantra: A little a day goes a LONG way. 

Happy healing to all who are bedridden for any reason, my heart goes out to you —especially to those of you with Lyme and related conditions since I have been where you are, knowing only 4 walls for many years, all while in a terrifying neurological state on top of everything else such as feeling like no-one understands you, believes you, or there is no doctor that will be able to help you. Know THIS: there are people like you (like me!) who understand you and who believe you, and there might be a doctor who will be your angel and help you so never stop searching. But also know THIS: It doesn’t matter if anyone besides yourself understands or believes you, at the end of the day it only matters that you understand and believe yourself, and at the end of the day you are your primary physician, your primary healer. So, even as you search for the right doctor, or undergo treatment from a doctor (or, really, it should be alongside a doctor because you two should be partners, with you active in your healing), there is no reason to lose hope; because you know even if you never find someone, you will always have yourself.  THAT is invaluable. ❤ 

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