Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole my mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


Surgery, Exercise, and Understanding Your Body's Limits

One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is adapting your exercise, diet, and activities to your body's changing capabilities. There are countless reasons why our body may not work the same as it used to. Injury, surgery, having children, and even the natural aging process can change our body's ability to function. It could even be something as simple as not getting a chance to exercise for a while.

In my experience, if I don't do arm exercises for a couple weeks, I have to ease back into a routine to avoid straining myself too much and risking injury. When I am in good practice, I can do two sets of 30 wall push-ups (elbows in then elbows out). But if I even go two weeks without upper body exercise, I need to start back at 15 repetitions on each set, rather than the full 30.

And what if you have just had surgery? Many exercises on the blog are related to recovering from or preparing for surgery. I always show you how to do the exercise with no resistance, because adding resistance when you are weak after surgery is dangerous. You have to accept your new level of ability, and slowly work your way back up to your previous capability. Even if you are not strong enough to completely lift your arms, or if you have very low range of motion after an operation, do not feel ashamed and do not push yourself to get better too fast. The wise thing to do is to be confident that you will get better with time, and stick to your new routine very closely.

Recently, I had a blog reader ask me how they should do the breast cancer exercises when they aren't planning on having surgery. Should they do them the same? Differently? Should they bother to do them at all?

My answer was, of course they should do them! These exercises are not just for surgery, but for getting oxygen and healing energy to the site of the cancer. The difference is, what is your 80% level when you have not had surgery? 80% effort after surgery might mean just stretching your chest a tiny bit while lying in bed. If you aren't having surgery, but are going through chemo, 80% effort may be doing a few chest exercises for 10 minutes while sitting in a chair. If you are completed treatment and are feeling healthy, 80% effort could be chest and arm motions with some 5lb weights in your hands, while standing up.

It's all about recognizing what your ability is at this stage of your life, and doing the right amount of exercise to maximize healing and minimize your chance of further injury or illness.

Happy Stretching!

Mind-Body Wellness for Cancer Survivors

This Sunday is National Cancer Survivors' Day, a day for appreciating all of our loved ones who got through the trials and tribulations of cancer, and are now rebuilding and redefining their lives in the wake of their remission.

It is also a reminder of how cancer never truly leaves us. Even if our body is free of malignant cells, the impact it has on our lives, one way or the other, stays with us.

But survivors also have the power to change their lives for the better on the other side of this experience: not all the baggage we take from going through cancer has to be a burden. Many people find the motivation to change their lifestyle in the battle with cancer. But to really improve your life as a survivor, those healthy changes need to stay with you long after the countless hospital visits and surgeries and chemo sessions have ended.

I've talked a lot about how a mind-body exercise routine is key to boosting your immune system and preventing chronic illness. I've talked about how to take baby steps for learning mind-body techniques, how to commit to a regular routine, and even how to fit it into your busy schedule.

But today, the message is this: make sure you don't leave your mind-body tools behind when you walk out of that oncology ward for the last time. 

Medical Qi Gong for Breast Cancer

In this final installment of the Breast Cancer Awareness vlog series, I show you a move called "White Ape Pick Up the Peach." This movement utilizes a lot of shoulder rotation that will loosen up any muscles in your chest that haven't been covered by my past three videos on Breast Cancer here, here, and here. I hope these videos have helped all of you prepare and recover!

This movement is extremely versatile, it can be used to prepare and recover from upper body surgery, relieve carpal tunnel symptoms, and build up your lower energy center. Definitely add it to your repertoire!