Monday, December 20, 2010

Coping with Chronic Pain, Part 3: Exercise

Warrior III
Parts 1 and 2 talked about different options to help you try and manage your pain.  In the next few installments, I would like to go into more detail for each option and offer some tips that I hope you find helpful.  First up...

As a sufferer myself over the past five plus years, I have found regular exercise to be one of the most effective ways to manage my pain.  

I didn't always feel that way.  Moving hurt too much.  Then depression set in and what do we do when we are depressed?  We eat.  So I was moving less and eating more.  Not a good combination.  

Then I realized that I had to change the way I looked at exercise.  I went from teaching ten fitness classes a week plus my own workouts to nothing.  I couldn't do it all anymore, but I had to do something.  Here are some things to think about when it come to chronic pain and exercise:

      • We have good days and bad days. If you need to rest, rest.  If one kind of exercise is not working, try something else.  The important thing is that you keep trying. 
      • Often we are in so much pain that we don't want to move at all.  As I mentioned in the first post, exercise is a slippery slope for us so we need to find balance. 
      • If you have never exercised regularly in the past, start off slowly.  You may also want to enlist a personal trainer who is able to teach you correct form and modify exercises.
      • If you are an avid exerciser, you may find that you are not able to workout at the same level of intensity you once could.  It can be very frustrating, but don't get discouraged.  You can be active, you may just have to learn to do things a little differently and listen to your body a little more.
      • Yoga is a sufferer's best friend.  There are poses to help you build strength and stretch your muscles.  Meditation and relaxation are also fantastic to help with some of the depression that comes with the pain. 
      • Although it can be intimidating for some, pilates is also very helpful.  All of the exercises can be adapted to your level and it really helps you connect with your body - how it feels, what muscles are working, how movement and breath work together etc.

        Which kinds of exercises work for you?  What didn't work and why?

        Stay Healthy, 

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