If you are in pain and/or suffering with fatigue then the temptation to skip exercise can be all too great. Makes total sense. If it hurts just sitting in your living room, it’s going to REALLY hurt if you push yourself out for a run… But for people who suffer with chronic disease like PsA, science actually tells us that exercise – within your comfort and capability zone – can be a really positive thing and help you to feel better1 both physically and mentally.
If you have been avoiding exercise for a while now, what has probably happened is the muscles that are needed to do things like twisting, turning and bending (often the ones that tend to hurt the most!), will have been underutilised and become redundant. This is yet another double-edged sword for you PsA Warriors out there who want to get back into it, as to start with these activities are going to seem even more challenging.
The good news is that the body is incredibly versatile and can bounce back through small lifestyle changes. Stiff muscles can be built up again, and ligaments stretched to allow for more mobility.
But, perseverance is the name of the game. As is always the case for people trying to get back into exercise, with our without a chronic disease, routine is key. Make it part of your day, little and often, and set yourself targets with rewards associated with your success. More carrot, less stick! Anything that you can do that is more than you are doing now should be seen as progress; you don’t need to me asure yourself against anyone else so strap on your trainers and give it a go. And remember, it doesn’t need to be running, or gym based activity, if that’s not your thing. Hiking, swimming, yoga, strength training, dancing – these are just a few of the many exercises out there that could help you with your PsA. You might need to try a few before you decide what suits you best. Why not try one a week for the next month and keep a record of how they made you feel?
7 Tips for Exercising When You Have Chronic Pain2
1. Talk to you doctor before you begin an exercise program.
2. Start slowly and gradually increase your efforts as you gain strength, flexibility, and confidence.
3. Move at your own pace. Never try to keep up with a class or a group if doing so is painful.
4. Exercise every day, if possible.
5. Strive for a balanced routine of cardiovascular, strengthening, and stretching exercise.
6. Accept that you will be able to do more on some days than others.
7. Be patient with your progress. Overexertion makes pain worse and can strain muscles.
2. Confronting Chronic Pain, A Pain Doctor’s Guide to Relief by Stephen H Richeimer (available at https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/exercise/7-tips-exercising-when-you-have-chronic-pain)