Pacing for pain management

woman doing some tai chi exercises

Living with persistent pain is a daily challenge. Sometimes even standing up can be painful. Starting to get active can be difficult, but here are a few things that might help.

Exercise helps pain management – but take it easy to get started

You can start with stretching while still seated. Sitting on a kitchen chair and raising your arms or standing up and sitting down a few times keeps you moving. When you get up for a cup of tea, think about climbing a few steps on the staircase or outside the house.

  • If walking is for you, don’t go too far too soon. Try it out, go for a short walk, with a friend or member of the family. Tell them how you are feeling. Don’t put yourself under pressure, take it easy.
     
  • Sports injuries that result in long-term pain can be frustrating as you might no longer be able to play the sport anymore. You may want to look for Adaptive Sports in your area. These are designed to get you back into sport and can include tennis, golf, volleyball and watersports.
     
  • If you haven’t tried Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi, you might be surprised how helpful gentle movement can be. Good teachers are trained to work with you to make sure that you stay within your limits. Some put together a programme that will help you exercise at home
     
  • Swimming is an exercise that can be taken at your own pace. Most pools have a slow lane to let you decide how fast you swim, and a gentle few lengths will help your fitness.
     
  • Gyms can be a bit off-putting if the machines are full of people there to build muscles. You can ask at your leisure centre when it tends to be quieter. Some will also help you with using the equipment.

Research has shown that staying active within your limits helps you manage pain. Being on the move can give you a sense of achievement and help you notice your pain less.

Start slowly, remember that a little exercise is good. Short periods, short walks, easy swims, being with a friend, all these will help you.

Ten Footsteps Your Journey to Living Well with Pain

Learning how to manage your pain is a journey. Like any journey, it takes time and everyone’s experience is different. We know from people living with pain that there are some things which can be really helpful. We’ve called these the Ten Footsteps and we’ll tell you something about them in this leaflet.

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