Staying as healthy as possible means combining self-management techniques, such as pacing, with symptom management such as healthy eating and weight control.
When you first had Polio, you may have been told "use it or lose it", even if this meant you acted in a way that made you feel pain or very tired. We now know that it's much easier and better for you to learn new ways of coping with PPS. This can be summed up as "conserve it and preserve it". One way to conserve your energy is through pacing.
Pacing is a method of learning to recognise your own individual and manageable baseline of activity, so you always stop what you are doing before you become exhausted. By always stopping before you are tired, you may be able to continue for longer.
Pacing means that most activities can be broken up into smaller ones with rests in between.
For example, if you swap between several different jobs or repetitive activities you will be using different muscles and resting others. If a job cannot be broken up it may need to be done a completely different way. You may need help from another person, or may realise that the job was not necessary after all.
For example, several smaller trips to a supermarket may be easier than one large shop, but if just driving to the supermarket and back is tiring, then maybe it is time to have home deliveries.
When managing PPS symptoms it is worth considering the following: pace, change or stop.
Try to live your life so you feel as fit and healthy as possible most of the time, and then see how you can fit family, work, activities and friends into it. Adapting and finding new ways to do things has always been part of living with Polio. The same goes for living with PPS.
Here are some questions to help you pace:
How much can I do in one day and what is most important?
What do I really enjoy doing?
What is not important and can be cut out?
Have I allowed time to rest?
Have I organised my home or workplace so that the things I need most often are the easiest to get?
Have I arranged comfortable seating for any task that can be done sitting?
The Pacing for Activity and Exercise leaflet, written with advice from the physiotherapy department of the Lane Fox Unit at St Thomas' Hospital in London, includes further information about pacing and how to work out a baseline of activity. Contact Support Services for a copy.
Please talk to your doctor or physiotherapist before you start an exercise programme.
Being overweight can be a further strain on weakening muscles and will not help your energy levels and general health. Losing weight is a good idea and can help reduce PPS symptoms.
While regular exercise is a good way of controlling weight, it might not be possible for you.
Following a sensible and healthy eating plan will help to reduce weight and improve health. It is important to eat a healthy balanced diet including foods that provide slow released energy over longer periods.
For information on how to manage a healthy diet, order our Healthy Eating Booklet by contacting our Support Service Team.
You could ask your GP to refer you to a dietitian.