Living with Chronic Pain

Exercise for Pain?

2014-06-10 09:19:50

Hurting yourself by pulling or tearing a muscle often requires rest and rehabilitation.  Chronic pain which has as its’ start a physical injury just like the muscle tear, will get more painful if you rest too long.

Very strange, but it is what we know.  We also know that if you do too much exercise you will hurt more and not help yourself.  The “sweet spot” of chronic pain rehabilitation is finding the level of activity that you can do daily that will help your chronic pain condition.  Here are some ideas to better explain this.


  1. Pain does not mean harm with chronic pain conditions.  It will hurt somewhat to get active but the messages to your brain to stop and rest aren’t helpful.
  1. Being active with chronic pain means you will need to have at least three different workout programs based on your levels of pain that day.  What to do when your pain is a 2-4, 5-7 or 8-10 (0 is no pain 10 is worst pain ever) is important information to make sure you stay active daily.
  1. We know that if a healthy person is totally inactive for one day, the body starts to break down.  Being active is vital to getting and staying healthy.
  1. Eventually certain exercise programs can be designed to improve your brain health.  Often, higher heart rates are required, but as you continue to move forward with your program, this may also be possible.
  1. Make sure you reward yourself for being active.  I get rice crackers with peanut butter and chocolate almond milk as a reward each time I finish a treadmill workout.  Not sure it’s recommended by any dietician, but it works for me and helps me get through those workouts 5 days a week.
  1. If you have chronic pain, you just can’t start a program.  You could hurt yourself if you do too much or see no benefit if too little.  A trained coach can help design a program for your pain condition and level of physical condition.  Often it’s important to get your doctors approval to start an activation program.


For many with chronic pain, exercise results in a reduction of pain levels for hours after the workout.  It may be that the exercise increases blood flow to injured areas or provides a burst of natural chemicals to the brain to reduce pain sensitivity.  It may take months of work to get this impact, but over time, the majority of our clients report the effectiveness of exercise decreasing pain levels.