Dysautonomia

Dysautonomia patients often struggle to stand or even sit up; many consider exercise impossible. However, dysautonomia Badasses report that, once they progress in an exercise program, exercising in much easier than standing still, as muscle contractions reduce blood pooling.

Kris: Ultramarathoner | Thru-Hiker | Dysautonomia Warrior

Whether dysautonomia patients are just starting out on their exercise journey, are returning to fitness after an injury or illness, or are already actively training for a competitive event, the following exercise protocols may be useful in improving standing and exercise tolerance:

  • Dallas/CHOPS Protocol
  • Levine Protocol – If you’re interested, ask your physician to contact Dr. Benjamin Levine’s office and request this protocol.

Many (but not all) athletes with dysautonomia benefit from salt supplementation.

  • SaltStick welcomes dysautonomia patients whose doctors recommend electrolyte supplementation to join the Vitassium Club. Vitassium Club members receive 20% off their orders, and free shipping is available on orders of $75 or more. To join, submit a simple application at vitassium.com.
  • Nuun creates flavored electrolyte tablets that can be dissolved in water, and is a familiar brand to both athletes and dysautonomia patients. The NUUNHELPSME coupon code gives dysautonomia warriors 30% off their orders. Additionally, Nuun maintains an Ambassador program, which offers 40% off and opens each fall. For more information, check out nuunlife.com.
Emily: Motivator | Obstacle Crusher | Athlete with Dysautonomia

Compression products are another common tool employed by dysautonomia warrior-athletes. While most compression socks and calf sleeves intended for runners offer 20-30 mmHg of compression, doctors recommend 30-40 mmHg for patients with dysautonomia. That level of compression may or may not be helpful during workouts.

As is so often the case with chronic illness, athletes with dysautonomia work to find what works for their bodies while they’re training. In talking with endurance athletes with POTS and other dysautonomias, a few themes have emerged:

  • Not all types of exercise are created equal. Swimming, rowing, and recumbent aerobic exercise are all good choices during comeback periods or for recovery or bad-health days.
  • Exercising twice a day can be helpful. Even though exercise can be very challenging for POTS patients, many feel better after doing it. Some athletes divide their workouts into two daily sessions or otherwise get in some additional active time during the day, in an effort to maintain their conditioning.
  • It is important to accept schedule deviations. When working with a coach or schedule, there’s often a disconnect between how you’re feeling and what’s expected of you on a given day. Some athletes have had success taking rest days on their own terms and “making hay while the sun shines”–moving during scheduled rest, if they’re feeling good.

If you are a dysautonomia Badass, we’d love to learn what works for you! Please feel free to email resources@chronicallybadass.org with your fitness tips and dysautonomia hacks.

The content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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