Injury & Insulin Sensitivity

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (@healthytypeone) you may have seen that the last couple of months I’ve not been exercising at all due to a very painful trapped sciatic nerve in my lower back. Doctors orders. A complete rest.
Now the trapped nerve has been with me for a while, it’s from a previous injury I had when I was 14 when I slipped two discs in my spine from growing taller too much too quickly leaving a weak spine with the combination of a nasty football challenge.

Fast forward 13 years later and it’s come back to bite me in the ass. Literally.

I’ve been having physio for the last couple of months and it’s slowly getting better, ups and downs but I can now walk around without a limp and mostly pain free. The odd twinge but it’s now focussing on removing tension from my lower back and strengthening certain parts of my body to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Whilst the pain has been difficult constantly, managing my blood sugar levels has become even more difficult over time. Having always been active before and after my diagnosis this is the longest I’ve ever been without exercising at all – probably ever!

The effect it’s had on my insulin sensitivity has been very surprising.

So, pre-being-told-I-can-no-longer-exercise I was taken 18 units of basal (long acting) per day and around 5-7 units of bolus (rapid) per meal.

Currently, my basal is now 24 units and my bolus has increased to 10-14 units depending on what I’m eating. Because I’m injured I’m also eating less, approximately 500-700 calories less per day in order to try and maintain my body weight.

That’s a 33% increase in basal and 100% increase in bolus in 8 weeks! Which is astonishing. For me anyway.

However, what it does confirm to me is the importance of exercise as a diabetic. Managing my levels has been far harder over the last 2 months than I’ve ever known. They’re far less predictable and it’s almost like starting again.

I’ve blogged many times on the importance of exercise and Type 1 diabetes – probably the most succinct post is here. Now I’ve not exercised for 2 months I can see the effect it’s having not only on my appearance, but most importantly, how I feel, my diabetes management and my insulin sensitivity.

Training around an injury really depends on the severity of it. Mine was so severe that we had to take a complete stop. However, if you see a doctor or a qualified physio and you’re given the okay to train – work around the injury. Reduce the weight or intensity, include exercises that still work body parts that won’t be effected whatever is damaged and take it easy. There’s very little if any reward in pushing your body too hard when injured.

Steve Cook explains how to train around an injury here:

Hopefully I’ll be back in the gym next week and kicking off an exciting little project to show what a diabetic can really do and to try and counter a lot of the negativity we see in the media about our disease!

Until next time.



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Dan has been a Type 1 Diabetic since November 2011 and writes about his experiences living with two autoimmune conditions (Type 1 Diabetes and Ulcerative Colitis), nutrition, exercise and living an overall healthier life on his blog and via his social media platforms.

2 thoughts on “Injury & Insulin Sensitivity

  1. I just found your blog, Dan, and have enjoyed looking through it. So sorry that you got injured and couldn’t exercise. I experienced the same reduced insulin sensitivity when I got injured a couple of months ago. I was still doing exercise any way I could, but it just wasn’t enough. My basal and boluses went up, my body comp started changing to more fat and less muscle despite cutting a massive amount of calories from my diet, cutting carbs further, and continuing my clean diet. It was awful. It felt so good to be able to exercise again. I am also a huge advocate for exercise to manage blood sugar levels as a type 1 diabetic. Keep up the great work with your blog. I look forward to continuing to read your other entries.


    1. Hi Lisha!! Thank you so much for your kind words! Sounds like your experience is exactly what I went through – more frustration than anything else! Glad to see we think along the same lines when it comes to exercise and T1D – such an important tool! Thanks – looking forward to reading more of yours as well!


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