How To Keep Exercising Despite Chronic Pain
Pain is a great excuse if you don’t like to exercise, and it’s certainly something many people with chronic pain would just as soon avoid.
Yet at the same time exercise is one of the things that can help make that pain go away.
“It can become a Catch-22 situation,” says Dr. Victor M. Romano, a board certified orthopedic surgeon and author of Finding The Source: Maximizing Your Results – With and Without Orthopedic Surgery.
“We don’t want to exercise because we have pain, and yet exercise will usually help you reduce the pain over the long run.”
Research has shown that exercise is an essential aspect in the treatment of chronic pain. Lack of exercise can cause a downward cycle of deconditioning and worsening pain. But exercise can help those with chronic pain engage in enjoyable and essential activities of daily living with greater ease. Stretching, cardio exercise and weight lifting are the three types of exercise most people should include in every workout, Romano says.
Doctors generally ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of one to 10. The average intensity of pain experienced for 12 or more hours over a 24-hour period is considered their baseline pain. Romano says if, during exercise, pain levels increase by more than 2 points from the baseline you should stop and modify that exercise to ensure you do not cause a flare up of your pain.
Of course, a good diet is also important.
For people who suffer from chronic pain, Dr. Romano offers these exercise tips:
- Try shorter exercise periods. It is better to exercise in short bursts than in one long workout. Even five minutes is better than nothing. Everything counts.
- Weight training is also important for seniors and women. Research has proven that weight training is good for everyone, regardless of sex or age. Make sure to incorporate it into your exercise program.
- Stretching is important. Go online and find some good stretching exercises and incorporate them into your daily routine, even if you don’t exercise that day.
- Try yoga or tai chi. These programs have shown success with people with chronic pain.
- Mind over matter. If you need to do an exercise that you know is going to be painful, start by taking some deep breaths and focus your energy. Take your time.“Even though exercise for somebody with chronic pain sounds counter-intuitive,” Romano says, “it is very important as part of recovery therapy.”