Exercising for pain relief

October 9, 2015

For many people, the word exercise has a negative connotation that has nothing to do with its actual definition. Mention the word, and they immediately think of gyms and big muscles. We understand. If someone asks you, "Do you exercise?," they probably mean formal, intense workouts on behalf of your health. It's time to explode that definition and some exercise tips.

Exercising for pain relief

1. Did you know?

Exercise, in its broadest definition, is any exertion done for the sake of training or improvement. It can be mental or physical, short or long, simple or complex, done in bed, in the kitchen, or even in line at the store. Nowhere in the dictionary definition of exercise does it say you need to change your clothes, sweat, join a class, leave your home, or spend hours doing it.

Why are we telling you this? Because for many people, intimidating stereotypes and preconceived notions cause them to not exercise. For pain management to be truly effective, exercise needs to be part of the program.

2. Exercise tips

Once you start, the next step is to develop a routine: a regular time and place to do whatever exercise you choose.

  • First thing in the morning? During commercials while watching the news? After taking your evening walk? By committing to a specific time, you'll be more likely to make doing the exercises a habit.
  • Move slowly and carefully, without any jerky motions.
  • While you do the exercise, breathe deeply; don't hold your breath, as is often the natural inclination. If the move causes you to hurt beyond what seems appropriate or natural, stop immediately.
  • Finally, keep your ultimate goal in mind as you exercise. For a small investment in time and energy, you are doing precisely what you need to do to greatly reduce pain, improve mobility, and live the life you want. Let's get started!

3. Keep an exercise log

Movement helps the body feel better. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you set specific exercise goals appropriate for you. Most people should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.

Keeping a record of your exercise will firm your commitment and help you articulate reasonable goals and stick with them. It will also help you monitor how far you've come from day one, when walking to the mailbox seemed like a feat.

In your weekly exercise log you can track:

  • Date and time
  • Type of exercise
  • Duration or distance
  • Pain before the activity (0 to 10)
  • Pain after the activity (0 to 10)
  • Any other notes
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