If I have chronic pain, should I exercise?
You may have heard the saying that if you have pain you should just rest until the pain goes away. This is not necessarily true. It is always recommended to have your pain checked by a medical provider, but when there is not a medical reason to avoid exercise, movement is a wonderful way to help your body heal.
Ongoing chronic pain is a sign that your nervous system has become highly sensitive. Our instinct is to sit or lay down and avoid any activity that resembles exercise when experiencing discomfort. However, prolonged sitting or “resting” only makes our muscles weaker and can make us prone to more pain or injury later. Movement is medicine.
Your doctor may have suggested you start exercising to help manage your chronic pain. Movement will help keep your muscles and bones strong, your joints lubricated and mobile and your heart and brain functioning optimally. Being told to start exercising can feel overwhelming because of fear of more pain or further injury. Lack of motivation or low energy levels can also keep us locked in the lazy boy.
Don’t give in to the temptation to wait until you feel better before you start moving your body more. Moving your body more will help you feel better. Start off slowly and explore activities that are gentle such as a short walk or swim or water aerobics. There are restorative yoga classes or online videos to try. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks. Remember to hydrate before, during and after exercise to help lubricate your joints, regulate your temperature and improve your recovery.
The important part is to claim your life back, in spite of the pain, instead of waiting till you feel better to start to live to your fullest potential.
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Great article Anna!
Glad you enjoyed!