Written by Tracey Kellett

Figuring out how you’re meant to exercise when in pain is a very common concern and tough question. If you’re in pain, there are a number of things you will want to do, for example; take some painkillers, have a hot bath, have a cold bath, go to sleep, cry, scream… and we know exercise does not make that list. 

And that is TOTALLY fine. 

If you are in acute pain, you do not need to exercise. You need to do whatever takes the pain away. 

If, on the other hand, you are in a space where the pain is manageable, get moving. Movement is one of the best things you can do to ease symptoms of osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis types (except gout), rest when you are having a flare and get moving when you are not, fibromyalgia, and even lupus. You can do upper body movements if your knees/hips/lower body isn’t feeling the greatest. Do lower body movements if your wrists, hands, neck, shoulders, etc, aren’t in the best shape. 

If everything feels a bit creaky or tender, you might want to get in a pool and float around to the best of your ability. With motion comes increased strength and flexibility that can help relieve and even prevent symptoms. If you are feeling fed up, getting on the ground or sitting on a chair and letting it all out in a private yin yoga session at home could be just the ticket.

Try our chair yoga session with rheumatologist and yoga teacher Dr Nikki Tugnet. 

If you are very sedentary and are planning to change this significantly with a regular exercise programme, you might want to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your current medications. Questions to consider when talking to your health professional include: Should I take my medications at different times of the day? What can I do either before or right after I exercise to minimize symptoms?

Read more about exercise and pain from exercise professional Kris Tynan, (Dip PE) Programme Director of Exercise As Medicine NZ.

The best way to get moving

Figure out what you enjoy, what your limitations are, and when getting moving will work best for you. If you have more questions, call us on 0800 663 463, or make an appointment with a clinical exercise physiologist or other exercise professional near you. 

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