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Managing Chronic Pain with Exercise

Man bicycling on neighborhood street.

Exercise can help lessen pain. In some cases, exercise may help treat your underlying problem. Activity can improve your mood and your overall health. It can give you more energy, help you sleep, and help you control your weight. It is important to learn how to add safe exercise into your daily activity.

At first, you may feel uncomfortable. As your body becomes stronger and more flexible, it will be better able to relax, helping to manage pain and give you back more function.

Exercise safely

See your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Then try the following:

Consider working with a physical therapist if you haven't exercised in a long time or have physical limitations. He or she can teach you stretches and exercises that fit and improve your condition and fitness level.Start slowly. Gradually increase time and intensity. Exercise several times a week, not just on weekends.Pacing your exercise can help you approach it safely and effectively.

Ways to exercise

Before you start exercising, ask your physical therapist which activities are safe for you. Here are some tips about exercise:

  • Use stretching and range-of-motion exercises to condition painful muscles and joints.

  • Choose low-impact forms of exercise such as walking, biking, swimming, and water exercise.

  • Avoid high-impact activities. These involve jumping, running, or sudden starts, stops, or changes of direction.

  • Try strength training. Use light weights. Gradually increase the number of repetitions you do in a session.

Make a commitment

Work toward a goal of exercising at least 3 to 5 times a week for 30 minutes at a time. You can also break it into manageable chunks, like three 10 minute increments or two 15 minute chunks. The important thing is that these exercises are things you want to do. Here are some tips:

  • Choose activities you enjoy. Exercise with a friend, or join a class.

  • Be more active in your daily life. Walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk instead of driving to do errands. Park your car further from your destination.

  • Keep exercise clothes and shoes handy at work or in your car.

  • Set small goals. Reward yourself when you meet them.

  • Start with easy activities.

Safe exercise tips

Here are some safe exercise tips:

  • Start each session with a "warm-up" of slow exercise. Work up to a brisk pace. Then, slow down to "cool down."

  • Expect some soreness at first. If you feel increased pain after exercise, talk with your physical therapist.

  • Use heat or ice as directed.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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