Don’t Sweat It! How To Exercise With HS
Last updated: January 2023
We all know that movement is a vital part of keeping healthy, both physically and mentally. (And especially during a global pandemic!) But having a condition that is aggravated by sweat and friction can make even the most gentle forms of exercise seem daunting. After years of starting exercise regimes only to end up with a flare and throwing in the (bloody, often pus-soaked) towel, I’ve come up with some essential tips to keep you flare-free while still maintaining a healthy relationship with movement!
Loose clothes with hidradenitis suppurativa are your best friend
Bust out your best 90s B-Ball fashion – the baggier the better! With tight yoga sets being all the rage, it can be easy to forget about those high school gym uniforms that served you so well! Loose, knee, or thigh-length shorts paired with a loose fitted t-shirt keep you cool, comfortable, and able to participate in a variety of activities in a safe manner.
Look for moisture-wicking fabrics
If you are going to wear something form-fitting, make sure it is made with a moisture-wicking fabric. What are moisture-wicking fabrics? Moisture-wicking fabrics are fabrics with the ability to pull moisture away from the skin using tiny, built-in capillaries. Moisture is drawn to the outside of the fabric, which makes it easier to evaporate. This pulls the sweat away from your body and helps to keep you dry during your workout! Lots of different activewear companies offer moisture-wicking products in a variety of fun colors, patterns, and styles.
Clean yourself immediately!
The minute you finish your workout, you need to remove the sweat from your body as soon as possible. If you’re doing a home workout this can be easily done by taking a shower as soon as you can. If you are going to the gym or taking a fitness class that doesn’t offer you the chance to shower right afterward, take some baby wipes (I like the Seventh Generation brand because they are all-natural and have limited ingredients so they never cause me to flare and are easily purchased online) with you in your gym bag and wipe down all of your sweaty bits in the bathroom when you are done!
Don’t be scared to ask for help
After floundering around with Pinterest workouts and basic cardio only to end up way worse off than I started, I asked my doctor to refer me to a kinesiologist. This has made a WORLD of difference! Once I educated him about my condition and what movements cause me pain, he was able to put together an exercise plan that still gave me the workout I was looking for without putting any strain on my flared areas. It also allows me to workout at home, meaning I can always shower immediately afterward! If you have the financial accessibility you could also look into hiring a personal trainer who can assist you in the same way.
Don’t overexert yourself
As someone who used to play an assortment of sports and was an avid runner, adjusting to lower impact exercise didn’t always give me the ‘workout high’ I was used to looking for. I felt like lower impact exercises almost weren’t worth it - if I couldn’t work up a vigorous sweat I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of it. After a while, I realized that ALL movement is good movement! Whether I’m only able to take my dogs for a short walk or do some gentle Yin yoga, every little bit helps move my health in the right direction. There is no such thing as a BAD workout.
The main takeaway here is to try not to get discouraged - you can and will find workouts that work for your body! HS does not have to ruin your connection to movement, it just might change it a little bit. Talk to your doctors about what they can do to assist you, utilize these tips, and get moving!
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