Tell us about your symptoms and treatment experience. Take our survey here.

Pushing limits when having RA

Why Do I Keep Doing That??

When was the last time you pushed yourself too far and suffered the consequences of extra pain, stiffness and disability?

My arms and legs screamed in pain. I felt the strain as I scaled the wall. I felt the pins jabbing into my joints as the discomfort radiated from them. At that moment I should have let go and signaled descent. But, I didn’t. I took a quick rest break and continued on. I loosened my grip on the holds and powered through to the top of the wall. Upon my return to stable ground, I collapsed spread eagle on the ground and kicked myself metaphorically in the rear “WHY DID YOU JUST DO THAT??”

I probably put myself down for the next couple of days. I definitely ended my rock-climbing session for the day but I didn’t listen to my body. I pushed myself past my current limits.

Was it worth it?

Was two minutes pursuing my favorite sport worth two days of pain, stiffness and possible long-term implications? No probably not. But, at the time, yes it was.

I used to be a very good climber and I loved the sport. I felt accomplished and powerful but ever since my Rheumatoid Arthritis flared up I watched that strength fade away.

I’ve only lived with this diagnosis for eight years. I was diagnosed at the age of 20. The memory of my more active, less painful self is still engrained heavily on my brain so, does this have some bearing on why I continue to push myself past my limits?

What was I trying to prove?

It’s not just about rock-climbing though. I also had these moments with other activities like carrying boxes. I recently sent some boxes in the mail. I carried the boxes to my car and then an employee got them from the car (brownie points for at least asking for some help??). Eight years ago, I could easily carry 20, 30, 40 pounds. Now, I am lucky if I can hold my 10-pound dog. I knew I was going to pay for carrying those boxes but I did it anyways. What was I trying to prove?

What about trying to do all my house chores in the same day? Or, carrying all the grocery bags in one trip? Climbing the stairs multiple times a day then taking my dog for a long walk?

When was the last time you pushed yourself too far, knowing full well while you were doing it? Pretty recently?

What am I trying to prove?

That regardless of my condition I am still the same person I was eight years ago? At what cost? I know I am not. I have a condition that greatly affects my physical ability. It must be psychological but why. I am not embarrassed about my RA (at least, not anymore) so why do I try so hard to show maintain my physicality? Will I eventually grow out of it or will I spend my entire life pushing myself too far because I’m that kind of person. Why can’t I ask for help? Though, I have gotten way better at this. Most people would understand and willingly lend a hand. Do I still push myself because I’m young? Will I eventually listen to my body and realize I need to accommodate my new normal?

Why do I keep doing that??

Let me know in the comments if you still push yourself past your limits. Why? And, if you have any insights into the questions I’m asking please, let me know your thoughts!!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.