Staying Active and Mobile
Keeping active and exercising is of critical importance in the management of pain. There are a number of very useful resources for this, which we will be linking from this part of the site.
An excellent video by Dr Mike Evans on the benefits of exercise on health and well-being can be accessed via this link.
Some simple and highly recommended exercises for back pain are shown on the information sheet from Arthritis Research UK linked here.
Remaining active stops loss of fitness and improves physical and mental well-being
Exercise and activity are very important in helping to prevent and reduce pain and to increase fitness, together with other aspects of healthy living.
Weight loss may also be required to facilitate activity and to help with pain. The NHS Choices site has useful information on this.
Activity Cycling versus Pacing
People with persistent pain often vary their activity depending on their daily pain. This results in cycles of over activity during good days, and under activity during bad days. Doing too much on good days is often followed by increased pain, forcing the person to rest. This can lead to reduced fitness, increased pain and often the individual will become fearful of activity. This cycle will create a downward spiral in activity and further produce more pain and fear.
Setting a baseline of regular activity can be difficult because many people over-estimate what they think they should be doing. People should be encouraged to do small amounts of activity on a regular basis and be advised that this activity should not exacerbate their pain. This will result in improved fitness and a greater tolerance of activity allowing the person to gradually increase what they are able to do.
Practical tip: Break task down into smaller components. For example:
Doing 30 minutes of housework in the morning, and the same again in the afternoon as opposed to trying to do all the housework in one go. This 30 minute period of activity should be gradually increased over a period of weeks and months.
Similarly, a walk could be broken down into more manageable periods and gradually built up over time.