This page was last updated: March 25th, 2021
Exercise is fundamental for managing persistent pain, for our physical health and mental health. Exercising helps to improve level of function and reduces the sensitivity of your nervous system when introduced in the right way. When we do exercise that we enjoy, our bodies release natural pain relieving chemicals. Exercise is not harmful when you have persistent pain, in fact quite the opposite. Our bodies are designed to move and maintaining good mobility, fitness and strength will help you to improve your functional abilities and quality of life.
When looking to increase your activity, start with something that is slightly harder than what you usually do. Sometimes, you will do too much, which may make you pain worse for a short period. But that is okay. You are not causing further damage
It is almost always safe to move with persistent pain. A clinician will screen you of any serious pathology, which is very rare. Injuries heal and tissues will regenerate. Even if they don’t heal perfectly – they will have the capacity to function almost normally.
**If you are concerned about any new or altered symptoms please discuss these with your GP*
Although you may experience pain with certain movements, avoiding movements can reinforce that the body needs protecting. If your nervous system thinks we are unsafe to move, it will gradually produce more pain when you perform the movements or activities that are being avoided. Overtime, this can lead to muscle weakness, increased sensitivity, stiffness, fatigue and reduced fitness. These are all reversible by gradually reconditioning your body and nervous system. We now have grounded evidence that tells us the knock on effect of moving less is that pain can increase.
Please click on the links below to find out more about how to start to exercise:
Key benefits of exercise https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/
I want to get started with exercise but I am not sure how:
I enjoy walking but find it difficult, where do I start:
Different ways of improving health and fitness with persistent pain: