When we have pain, whether because of injury or age-related changes, how we approach movement and exercise can have a big impact on our recovery. Pushing ourselves too hard or not enough can be one of the reasons our recovery isn’t progressing as fast as we would like.
Pushing ourselves too hard or not pushing ourselves at all can equally hinder our recovery. If our pain worsens, it doesn't automatically mean we should stop moving or exercising. It's not as simple as that. At the same time, pushing yourself too hard can also teach the physiological protective mechanisms of your body that you don’t listen very well and that they need to be louder to get your attention. As a result, you become increasingly sensitive to pain, which hurts your recovery. So how do we find the right balance?
Pain is a moving target
When we have pain, we need to find just the right level of effort. Not too much, not too little. Finding just the right level of effort can be difficult when pain isn’t going away. Moreover, pain is a moving target. It’s different from one day to the next, and even from morning to night.
If your pain isn’t going away, try this:
1. When you are completing your daily movement and exercise program, pay close attention to how hard you push yourself and how your body feels afterward. Pushing yourself every day may make you more tolerant to pain, but it can also make it more difficult for your body to recover. If you’re not sure you have the right approach, talk to a healthcare professional knowledgeable in pain care who can help you change your daily plan.
2. Continue adjusting your plan and make sure it includes breaks for your body, including activities that can calm it down, such as breathing techniques. We know that both the nervous systems and the immune systems are involved in pain and recovery. You may be doing exactly the right exercises and movements, but what you’re missing is daily techniques to help you recover. Here as well, guidance from a healthcare professional knowledgeable in pain care can help.
Finding the right level of effort
Finding the right level of effort and making sure your body properly recovers can help maximize your recovery. If you’re still struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you're looking for guided practices that can help you manage your pain, move with more ease and get back to life, visit lifeisnow.ca and try the First 5 Steps for free. You might find the second step, "Breathing", particularly helpful. You can also check out our Locations page to find a Lifemark clinic near you or book online to consult a Lifemark clinician.