If you are experiencing long-term pain, the instinct is often to avoid physical activity in case it makes things worse or triggers a flare-up. But recent research shows that exercise is an important way of managing pain. Activity can relieve pain and in doing so improve your quality of life.
Gentle physical activity encourages normal impulses and improves the strength and fitness of your body which makes you feel better. Changing just a few aspects of your current lifestyle could help you reclaim activities that you enjoyed in the past, as well as making everyday tasks feel easier and much less daunting.
Things to bear in mind
- Think of exercise as medicine, an important daily treatment to help you manage your pain
- When exercising start slowly, don’t push yourself too hard. So rather than approaching with the attitude ‘no pain, no gain’, think simply ‘every little helps’.
- Check how you are feeling – to prevent a flare up, keep an eye on your pain levels. You may find measuring pain on a scale of 0-10 is useful. If your pain score goes up by higher than 2 points from the starting level take a break and change the exercise
- Avoid long exercise routines, instead focus on completing brief bursts of activity. Cooldown with stretches after any exercise - not before
Some suggestions for you to try
To make everyday movement easier try to fit in some stretches on a daily basis. These exercises can improve your flexibility and range of motion, helping to loosen tight or stiff muscles.
Improving your muscle strength will make day to day activities easier, is a good distraction and can help improve your sense of well being
You may want to try some strengthening exercises, such as bicep curls, wall push ups or squats.
Aerobic exercise is exercise which increases your pulse and breathing rate – in other words it gets your heart and lungs going.
It doesn’t have to be strenuous and shouldn’t be painful. Walking, cycling or swimming, whether gentle or a bit more energetic, all count as aerobic activities and will help you move forwards to less pain and better health.
Take a look at the Walk4Life site which is aimed towards helping everyone to get moving. You can use their site to find walks near you, track your progress and join a group or take one of their challenges.