When you experience chronic pain, exercising is often the last thing you want to do. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to just get through the day — let alone put on running shoes and workout clothes, then make the trip to the gym. Although chronic pain may feel like a totally justifiable reason to skip regular exercise, it’s usually in your best interest to find a way to get your body moving.

 pain points

Some people experience chronic pain due to reasons that make them unable to exercise. However, for a lot of people, exercising can be the gateway to healing and relieving some of the pain they experience throughout their bodies. Although you may be nervous about how painful it will be to start, carefully planning out workouts and taking precautionary measures can help ensure you only reap the benefits of exercise.

Exercising With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is an epidemic in the U.S., where the condition affected 20.4 percent of adults in 2016. Long-term pain can result from a variety of factors. It can be the product of serious injuries and a large number of chronic illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Depending on the reason behind the pain, exercise may be able to help individuals heal from injuries faster or help people who are frail from illness regain some of their strength.

Living with chronic pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life, as well as their mental health. From an economic standpoint, the healthcare costs associated with treating chronic pain has a huge impact on individual lives as well as the nation’s economy. The need for pain management services has continued to grow over the last decade, and with tens of millions of people experiencing chronic pain every day, more treatment plans must be developed to help as many as possible find relief.

 knee pain

Although exercise can treat chronic pain, it’s important to do so carefully and to find a specific workout plan that benefits each individual’s needs. For people suffering from joint pain, light stretching and water aerobics may be the best way to treat pain, but that might do little for someone whose pain stems from nerve damage. There’s no “one way fits all” for exercise in treating pain, so those seeking exercise for pain management should both consult their doctor, and listen carefully to their bodies as they try to treat their pain through physical activity.

In some instances, your medical provider may suggest medications or supplements to ameliorate pain and enable you to go forward with physical rehabilitation. For instance, CBD oil is proven to reduce chronic pain, enabling those with physical limitations to push themselves further. If you opt or are advised to take supplements to manage your pain, it’s doubly vital that you listen to your body; don’t take such substances in an attempt to “mask” the natural pain of an overworked body. Unless you carefully plan out your workouts, this can lead to injury.

Carefully Planned Workouts

Depending on the type of pain your live with and what your goals are, it may be beneficial to seek an expert to help you exercise. Physical therapists are educated and knowledgeable in treating pain, and they often know exactly what pace you should set to accomplish your goals as quickly and safely as possible. One treatment strategy that physical therapists often impose is strength training, as they believe strong muscles will lead to an overall strong and sturdy body.

 man squatting

These experts also know which exercises exactly will target the areas you most need to strengthen. Physical therapists will encourage you and push you to reach your limits, but they’ll never push you past what you can do. Having someone help you recognize what you’re capable of accomplishing can be really beneficial if you’re not confidently able to see this yourself. For those recovering from surgery or severe injuries, this may be the guidance needed to heal.

It can be easy to become frustrated with your progress through exercise. Training the body to become stronger is difficult even when you’re not suffering from chronic pain. However, it’s important to remember that your goal is to find the perfect pace for you. You should let yourself work up to your goals gradually  and celebrate your progress along the way.

Preventing Accidents

Exercise is important at every age; however, it’s also important to be extra careful when you need to, especially as you get older. In most instances, it’s best to avoid exercising in the dark, when you may be unable to see hazards in the road. You should also not train outdoors in poor weather, when the ground is wet or icy. If working out in nice weather isn’t always an option, consider getting a gym membership, where you’ll have a flexible time window for exercising and lots of equipment to choose from.

That being said, you should always be careful at the gym as well. Exercise equipment can often pose risks, especially if you’re pushing yourself harder than you should be. Whether you’re a younger or older adult trying to overcome chronic pain, anyone is capable of slipping and falling, and exacerbating injuries as a result. Although falls affect everyone, it’s best to not have too much anxiety about falling — instead, simply focus on being as careful as possible.

gym injuries

This is important whether you’re at the gym, doctor’s office, school, or work. Taking a fall when you already suffer from chronic pain can complicate your treatment plan and put you out for days, weeks, or even months. This can have a serious impact on your health, as well as your livelihood. If you suffer a fall at work due to workplace conditions, a workers’ comp claim can help you pay off medical bills and sustain yourself until you’re back on your feet.

Exercise offers individuals an exceptional number of benefits, from managing chronic pain to improving mental health. Although it may seem difficult to get started, light exercise can help you regain your strength and create a stronger foundation for your body. There are specific exercises you should do depending on the source of your pain, and doing them will eventually lead you to better pain management.

While it’s important to set goals, you should never push yourself past your limits. Your health and safety should always be your number one priority, and listening to your body is the best way to make sure you’re doing what’s best for yourself. Be careful when exercising, and always take preventative measures to avoid injury. Working out is possible despite chronic pain; you simply need to be thoughtful with your body.


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