Does Pain Keep You from Exercising?

by Audrey Demmitt

Mary in swimming pool  

As we age, we may experience a variety of aches and pains that come and go or pain that is a chronic problem. Pain is our bodies’ way of signaling that something is not right and we need to pay attention to it. But it does not always mean we need to avoid exercise. Whether it is caused by an old injury, a new injury, or a chronic health condition, exercise can help improve pain and even prevent pain.

Different Types of Pain

There are two kinds of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain starts suddenly, may be sharp, and is often associated with an injury like a muscle pull, a joint sprain or a broken bone. Sometimes acute pain is caused by over exercising; lifting too much weight or pushing beyond the point of your current fitness level. It is usually temporary and lessens as your body heals.

Chronic pain is ongoing and often a symptom of a health problem like arthritis, cancer, or diabetes. It is possible to exercise with chronic pain. Exercise helps manage pain, strengthen muscles, improve balance, and maintain range of motion in your joints. In fact, inactivity can make some chronic conditions worse with increased pain, stiffness, loss of motion in joints, and weight gain.

Tips for Exercising Safely with Pain

  1. Begin by talking to your doctor about your pain or injury. Discuss what exercises and activities would be most beneficial and safe for you.
  2. Ask for a referral to a physical therapist who can teach you proper techniques and design a safe exercise program to suit your needs and rehabilitate your injury.
  3. Practice exercise safety and set realistic goals. Start slowly with low intensity activity and work up from there. Don’t overdo it! Always warm up and cool down when exercising.
  4. Pay attention to what hurts. If it hurts, back off. Remember to listen to your body. If you have pain, swelling or inflammation in a specific joint, target other areas while resting the injury for a couple of days.
  5. Be sure to include a variety of exercises which have their own benefits. Simple stretching, balance, weight training and cardio activities can all be modified while recovering from an injury or managing chronic pain.
  6. You may need to reduce the intensity or duration of exercise so you do not make a health condition worse, prolong recovery time, or cause re-injury.
  7. If you experience a sudden, sharp pain while exercising-stop and seek medical advice.
  8. Consider water activities when recuperating and recovering from injuries. This kind of exercise is gentle on joints and muscles.

So, don’t let pain keep you down and inactive. Try exercising your way back to good health. To learn more about staying healthy as you age, visit Go4Life.

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