Chronic Illness Exercise – Do you mourn your previous regime?


by Jeannie Di Bon, July 13th, 2022

Chronic Illness Exercise – Do you mourn your previous regime?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes What’s your relationship with exercise? Has it changed over the years? Did a chronic illness diagnosis change your approach?

Chances are, things had to change. I know my approach did. My clients share their exercise history with me – many people going from being very active in exercise to finding their body just could not cope with it anymore. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of a chronic illness onset – it’s like someone flicked a switch and everything shifts, sometimes overnight. And we can mourn this change. That is perfectly natural response coupled with confusion, anger and resentment to this chronic illness condition.

I had been an active child – I was a sprinter and a cross country runner. I wasn’t the best, but I ran for my school at national events. I would perform well but I remember races where I either had to withdraw or came close to the back because I felt my legs were made of lead and I was running through treacle. I now recognise this feeling, of course, but back then I had no idea what was wrong and felt pretty bad about myself. I developed severe knee pain when running – some days I couldn’t walk. Despite the running, I had not developed strong thigh muscles to support my knees. (I also developed the stretch marks all over my thighs which I blamed running for and never ran again).

I discovered yoga aged 19 and did this regularly until the birth of my first son in 2004. No one picked up on my hypermobility, but I could do most poses. Although I always had low back pain, I would have been hyperextending my lumbar spine a lot in those days. But I loved the slowness, the thoughtfulness of yoga and that kept me coming back.

It wasn’t until after the birth of my second son that a physiotherapist insisted I start taking Pilates classes because I was “hanging off my joints”. I didn’t know what he meant but signed up anyway. That’s when my journey with healthy movement began. It keeps me pain-free and it’s how I help my clients manage their pain. All my clients get homework or work with The Zebra Club.

Over the years, I’ve expanded my knowledge into other areas such as biomechanics, pain science and neuroscience. I apply elements of all of this to my movement therapy. I’ve modified the traditional Pilates approach to one that suited the body, hypermobility, and chronic pain issues of my clients. This is now known as The Integral Movement Method.

The journey to pain-free movement might not be smooth. We may have to try different exercise modalities to find something that works for us. But the body is designed to move and when you find the right form for you, it’s going to feel so good. It doesn’t matter what that looks like – if it feels good to you, it’s going to be right. I’d love to hear about your exercise journey. I’ve met so many people with EDS and HSD who have adapted their exercises and after building control, awareness, stability, and strength, have been able to return to their original sporting loves. What changed for you?


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Mel Gurry - 16th July 2022

In my early years I danced, competed in ice skating, cheerleading and skied. I always wanted to run but something always felt off. I would get lightheaded, feel weak and my body felt heavy, my legs were often behind my upper body.
Over the adult years I experienced minor injuries that took a long time to heal but my overall core muscles, pelvis and spine seemed to cause the most trouble.
After years of PT/craniosacral IMT – integrative manual therapy sessions I started to worry how much more help I needed and low I was going to pay for it.
I decided to try Pilates and I quickly learned so much about my body issues and got the lower half of my body strong.
I decided to sign up for the teacher training. Unfortunately during the training I started to see how many exercises my body couldn’t do and my upper body tension and pain grew.
My doctor told me to stop!
It wasn’t until this year that I realized my eye turned blue, diagnosed with Blue Sclera, Dysautonomia, POTS and a strong case for HSD and mildly qualify for hEDS.
I’m so happy to have found Jeannie and her program so I can move again and get stronger! Thank you for all you have learned over the years and the program you created!


    Jeannie Di Bon - 17th July 2022

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so happy to have been able to help you in your journey.