Microsteps – Tai Chi

You reach a point in this life of chronic pain in which it feels impossible to even know where to start. It feels impossible to find the next step, because all of the steps feel too big. You can’t find a small enough step to help you move forward without moving you backward because you pushed yourself too far or overdid it. You know you need to do something, or you will never get anywhere, but what in the world is that something?

What we need to find are microsteps. Making progress when you have chronic pain or illness is all about the microsteps. It is all about the steps that are so small that you feel like you are standing still, yet imperceptibly you are really moving forward.

It is about the small, almost invisible choices made on a daily basis that lead us either closer to or further away from health.

The wonderful thing about these microsteps is that they seem like nothing on their own, but when you combine hundreds of little microsteps they add up into something that matters, something that makes a difference. Each small thing you add into your life that pushes you towards health makes a difference. Perhaps each small thing makes you feel 1% better, which is imperceptible on its own. But if you add 10 small things together, that is a difference you can feel.

I want to share some of the microsteps that have been helpful for me. I will share one or two, here or there, as they come to me. They seem so small. They seem so insignificant. When I was healthy, I would have laughed at the thought of making progress in this way, but now I see microsteps as my lifeline, the most important things I must do over and over again if I want to move forward in this life of pain.

For the past three weeks I have been doing a Tai Chi video, and it has been the microstep I needed to start exercising again. Before trying this video, I had been unable to find any exercise that I was able to do without flaring horribly. But this three minute video, this I can do! And it feels wonderful.

Our bodies all respond to pain and movement differently, but perhaps, this microstep will also work for you.

What microsteps have been most instrumental for you in making progress or fighting regression?



  1. I thought just watching the video here was refreshing. Nice job in posting it and your very realistic thoughts about improving your life when you’re battling chronic illness. I can definitely relate to your comment about how you never thought such microsteps would be necessary in your life, being formerly healthy.

    With the connective tissue disorder Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, I try to fight regression as well. On top of that, I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I don’t get out of my house much. I do my p.t. exercises at home and remind myself to get up off the couch or out of bed as often as possible, even if it’s just for a minute or two. Sitting for too long is painful with this disorder, yet we have balance issues at the same time, so moving is something that takes a lot of conscious thought to avoid tripping and falling or bumping into things.

    At the end of the day, I know I tried my best, so that makes taking these kinds of microsteps something that makes me feel good. I’m committed to working within the framework of my limitations and focusing only on the valor of my effort.

  2. Love the the idea of microsteps. For me, it was starting to ride a really gentle horse for a few minutes. The horse did the work and just sitting in the saddle was like a massage to my oh so weak back.

  3. The baby steps I take right now is to do my stationary bike for at least two min. That has been very difficult for me this past year. However I know if I don’t my leg will swell and then atrophy will set in. Also desensitization with a washcloth so I can handle wearing pants or a sheet on my “good pain” days. But it is an accomplishment 🙂
    It is so great that we can egg each other on and support one another 🙂

    1. It makes me feel so much more normal hearing other peoples’ baby steps, and knowing that I am not crazy for doing an exercise for 2 minutes and calling it an exercise! Thanks for sharing!

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