To Make Exercise Less Painful

Patients with back pain and other joint diseases are often prescribed physical therapy for a number of possible reasons, but here are the two main ones.
  • Because the cause of back pain is muscle weakness.
  • Because the doctor of therapist thinks that by strengthening the muscles around the damaged joints, it will increase support around the joints to make them feel less painful.
Both of these concepts are relatively easy to understand, and physical therapy often helps patients to recover more quickly from a variety of musculoskeletal diseases. The problem is, many back pain patients had considerable difficulty with even menial movements and chores, such as walking up and down stairs, walking at all, bending over to pick up objects, and even getting up and out of bed. Some of the grueling exercises that patients are required to do may be extremely difficult - at least at the beginning, and they may be painful during and afterwards. Sometimes, patients may feel worse as a result of their physical therapy exercises for days to weeks before they begin to feel better. Here are some suggestions on how to make exercise less painful.

Start slowly with exercise and build up gradually. The adage "no pain, no gain" may be appropriate to Marines and high school athletes, but for joint rehabilitation patients it may be more prudent to start slowly and work their way up. Patients should not be performing back-specific exercises during the first two weeks of an acute back pain episode. Acute back pain, even in patients with chronic back pain (lasting for 3 months or more) is when back pain is at its worst, and typically does not last longer than 1 week.

Try exercising in water. If your body is particularly sensitive to land based exercise machines and exercises, you may want to try some water exercises that challenge the same muscles. Most exercises that you can do on land, you can do in the water - and with less pain.

There are many modern and eastern-based exercises and movement therapies that may benefit patients whose joints are more sensitive to high-impact activities such as running and aerobics. Eastern therapies such as Yoga and Tai Chi have been around for thousands of years, but they have been embraced in the West relatively recently, and today are available in most cities for teaching and participating in group workouts by an instructor. Movement therapies such as the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais aren't designed as mind-body exercises the way Tai Chi is, or for an aerobic workout - the way swimming is, but rather as a who new system of learning how to move and maintain correct posture at all times.

Wear the appropriate clothing and footwear. You should dress for your workouts in clothing that is comfortable and allows you to move freely. If doing land-based workouts, you should wear sneakers that provide you with plenty of support.

Approach your workouts with a positive mindset. Don't set yourself up to fail. Tell yourself before your workouts that the exercises are going to go well, and that you are going to get positive results from them.