Last Updated on February 18, 2022 by melissanreynolds
How on earth do we exercise when in pain?
When your muscles are clenched, with some muscles screaming louder than others and you’re so tired that bedtime is all you can think about, exercise isn’t a top priority.
But, ironically, gentle exercise can help with fatigue. It also helps to strengthen the muscles that so desperately ache.
Defining Exercise When in Pain
Hear this: I am NOT talking about pushing ourselves into more pain. When I talk about exercise, I mean gentle movement within our energy envelope. Working with our body for symptom reduction. Towards our goals.
It is so sad that something so good for us and has the ability to be fun (when we choose the right type) is such a source of trauma and anxiety.
If you want my five guidelines for starting exercise without causing flares, see this post here.
So “exercise” could mean bed yoga, seated yoga, walking around our backyard, walking in our local area, jogging, weight lifting and more. The range of exercise options are as varied as our physical ability.
I wrote the following list several years ago and it holds true today, except it is more important that you make your own list of things that encourage you.
Here are the simple things that help me exercise when in pain:
- Pain relief – even on fairly high pain days, a very gentle walk can help. Research shows that getting into nature can help with chronic widespread pain. It’s also good for our mental health to get outside.
- Knowledge of my body – if I don’t keep it up I slip backward in my progress. In a surprisingly short amount of time, how far I can walk without too much pain in my legs afterward, can decrease. Stretching is also very important as my muscles are prone to clenching and getting tight from use.
- Willpower – anything I achieve with fibromyalgia/CFS takes a lot of willpower. It’d be easier to let myself lie on the couch more often than not, but if I (gently) push myself, while respecting my limits, it’s worth it.
- Enjoyment – I enjoy the type of exercise I do, mostly walking or yoga, so I want to do it.
- My kids– my little buddies like walking as much as I do. They love to move and burn energy and see new things. They also like to do yoga with me!
What are your “whys” for exercise? What are your favourite types? Will you make a reminder list of things to motivate you to exercise when in pain?