Physical Activity with Crohns Disease

A lot of folks that have Crohns are a little turned off by physical activity for a whole host of reasons.

I don’t blame them, really.

Chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and never wanting to be too far from the bathroom aren’t exactly conducive to physical trials of any kind. Regardless of all of that, it can be done. I accept that you’re not going to be up to much in the middle of a big flare up, but I’ve managed to do a few things in my short time on this planet after my diagnosis.

Two big ones come to mind:

  1. I’ve competed in 125km (78 miles) off-road, one day mountain bike races.
  2. I’ve trained in karate all over the world and currently hold a second degree black-belt in one of the most popular traditional styles in the world (Okinawan Goju Ryu, IOGKF).

They’re not earth shattering accomplishments by any means, but they were pretty big for me, especially at the time.

You’re more than capable of doing the same.

The two biggest things I had to figure out were how to mitigate my joint pain and how to reduce my need to go to the bathroom all the time.

I’d spent thousands on physical therapy to try and sort out my various joint issues (Crohns very commonly causes joint pain, it’s heaps of fun) and nothing really helped. In the end I had to spend hundreds of hours educating myself about how the human body works. I find that I have a lot less tolerance for faulty movement patterns than most people, but that I can get away with minimal pain if I move myself intelligently throughout the day. I learn’t to squat correctly, align my knees correctly, use and position my shoulders correctly, and work on my general mobility (think flexibility).

YouTube will teach you everything you need to know on that score, you can watch and listen to some of the worlds best practitioners talk about their field.

Secondly – I had to look at my diet.

This is a tricky one, everyone is a little bit different, but here is what worked for me.

  1. I stopped drinking coffee (I was only drinking 1-2 cups per day) and moved to a single cup of mild (not strong) green tea per day. This made a huge difference for me.
  2. I stopped eating dairy. This was the second thing that made a massive difference.

Coming off the coffee was a challenge, but I got it done.

I miss coffee a lot, but I’m better without it.

Learning your basic human bio-mechanics and some reasonably serious diet modification and I had myself under control enough to make some progress.

Do some experiments and see what works for you – exercise is important, and we were built to move.

It isn’t easy – but it is totally doable and very much worth your while.