For people living with chronic pain, exercise is not something that they often look forward to. Chronic pain is difficult to deal with in and of itself, and exercise can be a cause of its exacerbation. However, that doesn’t change the fact that exercise is extremely important to one’s health and well-being. In fact, it can even help soothe chronic pain—but only when done right.
If you want to avoid experiencing pain flare-ups during exercise, here are some of the most important pointers that you must keep in mind:
1. Talk to your doctor
Before you start any exercise regimen, seek advice from your primary care provider. They will advise you on the best types of exercise that you can do given your condition, and may refer you to a physical therapist if needed. Starting a routine without consulting with your doctor first can make your pain worse, as too much of the wrong activity can easily exacerbate your condition.
2. Invest in the right shoes
If you are living with a condition that makes your feet susceptible to pain, it is highly advisable that you invest in a pair of custom-made shoes from a pedorthic clinic. Specially made, medical-grade shoes will help keep your feet comfortable during exercise; something that regular shoes may not be able to accomplish.
Consult with a pedorthist to see what type of special shoes fits best on your feet. They will also be able to make modifications and customize your pair so that they fit perfectly, especially for exercise.
3. Exercise at your own pace
For people living with chronic pain, pacing themselves is one of the most effective ways to avoid flare-ups and remain relatively comfortable. The same principle applies during exercise. If keeping up with a workout class or a partner is too painful, opt to exercise on your own or with someone that does not mind going at different paces. Don’t feel pressured if others are doing more or going faster than you—the most important thing is to maintain a pace that is both safe and comfortable for you.
4. Hire a personal trainer
Preferably one that has experience working with clients who are living with chronic pain. A personal trainer can create an individualized workout plan that will work best for your condition. If you have certain health goals, such as losing or gaining weight, they can also modify your routine accordingly. Furthermore, having a trainer by your side while exercising can help make your workouts safer in case your chronic pain starts to act up.
5. Eat right
A balanced diet is one of the most important keys in controlling certain medical conditions, including chronic pain. Aside from helping manage your pain, eating a balanced diet can also speed up your weight loss or weight gain process while giving you enough energy to fuel your workouts. More than that, avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation is incredibly important in managing chronic pain.
If you are not sure where to start with your diet, consult a licensed nutritionist or dietitian. They can create a tailor-made meal plan for you with your condition and health goals in mind, as well as educate you about the foods that you should and should not be eating.
6. Build a balanced routine
Go for an exercise routine that has a good balance between cardio, strength training, and stretching. Stretching is extremely important for preventing pulled muscles and additional pain, while cardio and strength training are essential for building your muscles and shedding off excess weight.
Work with a personal trainer to find a good balance between these three key pillars. You can also talk to a physical therapist who can help you with stretching exercises, post-workout recovery, and exercise-related pain management.
7. Exercise regularly
Engaging in regular exercise helps build your strength, flexibility, and endurance faster and more effectively. It also helps keep your muscles in use so that they do not experience excessive strain over and over again as when you exercise on and off. Try to exercise at least three to four times a week or every other day, depending on your condition and current physical condition.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you are dealing with chronic pain regularly, but it is an important part of pain management—as well as for your overall health and well-being. If not to achieve your physical health goals, engaging in regular exercise is a great way to boost your mental health and achieve a brighter outlook in life, which may be difficult to do when you are experiencing constant pain.