Exercising with Chronic Pain

Hello readers~

I’m this week’s ThoughtBox guest contributor.

Joint pain is a common topic in conversation, research, and in articles, and we all experience it at some time.

When you think of chronic pain, you might think of joint pain that persists in the back, ankle, knee, wrist, hip, or the neck. Well lucky me, I have 4 of the 6 listed. I have had long-standing ankle, back, and neck pain, and, more recently, my wrist and foot. The thing about chronic pain is it is always there and sometimes it hides pain in other areas, which is not always a good thing.

female lower back pain

Chronic pain can happen in any position, at any time.

For example, my back pain is worse when standing, best when laying down, and somewhere in the middle when I am sitting. But that is today, tomorrow the pain could be worse laying down or sitting. When you have chronic pain the last thing you want to do is exercise, and cause more pain. Except that is what you should be doing: stretching and using muscles around the joints so they don’t get too stiff. Easier said than done, I know.

In an effort to get some exercise, I went to the driving range this week. For those of you who do not know about golf, there is a lot of twisting, bending, and extension, all things that increase the pain in my back. But I did it, I hurt before, during, and of course after, but it was better than doing nothing, right?

There were three things I should have done at the driving range:

  1. Start out slow
  2. Modify the workout to your pain tolerance level
  3. Stop when the pain gets too bad

Of those 3 things, I did NONE. In fairness, that was my plan starting out, but as a competitive person, I am always trying to push myself to do better than the last time. But as a person with chronic pain, I should know better. Because I didn’t follow the 3 tips above, I was in more pain, I had to stop before I wanted to, and the more severe pain lingered for days making it difficult to even walk. Lesson learned.

The exercise itself wasn’t bad, but the way I did it that was.

Those with chronic pain have to modify their workouts to their pain threshold. We have to take away the competitiveness (or at least reduce it) and do the workout for fun. For me lifting weights or being on a treadmill isn’t fun, but playing golf is fun.

So next time I go to the driving range I’ll remember how I felt for days afterward, and remind myself to go slowly, and modify, or stop when the pain is too much.

I know it will be more enjoyable next time around. Lesson learned.





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