For people with chronic pain, whether it be caused by a condition or an injury, exercise can be daunting and full of fear. You may be unsure what exercise is safe, what might make it worse or if it could help improve your pain. These are all things that you definitely need to consider and discuss with any gym or fitness professional you decide to work with.
Firstly, talk to your doctor and make sure that it is safe for you to take up some regular exercise, they may be able to steer you in the right direction for the type of exercise that might benefit you the most.
Make sure that you take things slowly; you will need to gradually increase your strength, confidence, endurance and flexibility to make sure that you don’t over-do it. If you push yourself too quickly, you run the risk of causing yourself more harm, and you will not see the desired results. You don’t have to be the strongest, lift the most or last the longest, you just need to do what is best for you. It’s not always a competition.
Listen to your body; it will tell you when something is wrong. Moving at your own pace will lessen the risk of injury. If you are getting pain when doing certain exercises or lifts, make sure you consult with an instructor to see if you are doing it correctly; if you are and you are still experiencing pain then it is not the exercise for you yet, and you may need to focus on other things to build up your strength before trying it again. Don’t feel like you need to keep up in a class or routine if it is causing you pain.
Build up your endurance and strength each day if you can. So in between gym sessions or classes, try to increase the number of steps you do in a day or do some stretching while at home or in between meetings. Working little by little will help your body adjust to exercising; there is nothing wrong with slow progress.
It’s important to have a mix of strength, cardiovascular and stretching exercises within your routine so that you are working on your body as a whole. If you are finding that one area is more painful than others, then go easy on exercises that target that area; make sure you work slowly with it to improve.
Go easy on yourself if some days you can do more than others. You will vary in energy and ability from day to day, especially if you are experiencing more pain one day than the next. Do what feels right for that day and accept your limitations. Then push a bit more on the good days.
Patience is key. If you overexert yourself, you can worsen your pain and strain your muscles. Don’t give up; this will take time; just know that you are doing what you can to help your body.