How Exercise Can Help with Chronic Pain

I am grateful to Mary Byrne Eigel for this re-post of one of her pieces   Lightening Up with Chronic Pain 

Exercise is a great pain management technique. But when you are in pain it can be your nemesis and most of time it can feel like work. It is usually something I do because it is a good thing to do, not because I want to do it or that it is enjoyable. My logical brain tells me that it is a way of maintaining flexibility and keeping pain at arm’s length. But I have noticed something recently that has happened in relation to exercise that I felt worth sharing.

I have only been on one team in my whole life, a college intramural basketball team. I had occasion to observe folks at our local “Y” playing water volleyball. They appeared to be having so much fun. I just happened to be in the pool when they were asking if anyone wanted to play. I thought “They are playing in  water, I love being in water. If I fall, I’m in water, how could that hurt?  If the ball drops, it does not fall to the ground where I cannot retrieve it, it’s on the water.” So I decided to give it a try.  Needless to say I am now  playing each week. I look forward to playing. I have never looked forward to exercising like I look forward to this.

There is a real sense of “joy” that comes from engaging in this activity.

It is joyful playing with others.

It is joyful being able to be on a team.

It is joyful being able to do something that is so beneficial and fun.

Being with others with various physical limitations, playing a sport that has very loose rules, laughing at silly mistakes and getting one heck of a workout makes this a perfect pain management tool. What keeps me valuing this  activity is not that it assists with pain management, but that it is “fun” and that I can do it, and that does wonders for my self image.

Do you have an activity that gives you joy that is also beneficial in terms of pain management? I would love to hear your answer.

Mary Byrne Eigel blogs at CHRONIC PAIN RECOVERY

Acknowledging Rebookah’s Photostream for the amazing photo

5 thoughts on “How Exercise Can Help with Chronic Pain

  1. It’s so true that the joy of playing and being active releases some endorphins which reduces pain. We can alter our experience of pain just by altering our mood through exercise. Thanks for posting.

  2. Hi Waist Backpack–
    Thanks for your comment. Pain takes over one’s life when we focus on it and let it control us. Pain can often be asked to take a back seat if we can put something before it and live in that something. Pain also relies on time–it draws it out, makes it slow down. When we are active time speeds up and helps us forget about pain. And the endorphins do their job too.
    Here’s to your good health, Beth

  3. Hey, I’ve visited Mary’s blog! Small world. 🙂

    There is a pain paradox. With the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, you don’t want to move, but if you don’t move, you tighten up even more. It’s especially important to maintain what you have – flexibility, strength and mobility, even if it’s in a modified form. The trick is in learning how much and for how long and knowing what you can and can’t do.

    The challenge and the trick is to find an activity that brings you joy. Then, as Mary discovered, it makes it easy to maintain.

    On my new blog – A Rheumful of Tips, I’ll link to the two of you in a future post.

    • Marianna, it’s amazing how challenges in life whittle away the negatives in our forms and make us giving, loving people. THANKS for everything. Beth

  4. Pingback: Exercise | A Rheumful of Tips

Comments are closed.