4 Rules for Exercising when you’re stiff, sore or injured: Rule No 1

It’s always so hard to tell people that they can’t do a particular activity because of their pain, problem or injury…


And most of us health professionals, who understand the huge benefits to staying active and mobile are very hesitant to say ‘stop’ exercising altogether!


Keeping active is of great benefit to your body’s healing systems– in reducing inflammation, reducing your pain perception, reducing your risk of your symptoms or the injury becoming chronic (i.e. long term) and maintaining your cardiovascular health.


In most cases, there’s usually a safe way of modifying what you can do, so you can stay as active as possible!


You just need to keep in mind some boundaries I give my patients so they can exercise with confidence that they’re doing more good than harm.


These parameters help you monitor how any exercise is affecting the injured area, the other parts of your body and your body’s response and reaction systems.


In this post I’m going to share the first thing to consider when exercising while you’ve got soreness, even pain, stiffness or an injury.

The number one rule:

Don’t push into pain, or at least not much of an increase in pain.


Before you start out, take a minute to rate the symptoms- like pain, stiffness or swelling- that you currently feel out of 10.


As a general rule, you do not want to increase the pain, stiffness or swelling you experience during exercising more than one, or a maximum of two, increments above that level.


For example, my shoulder might feel a bit sore as it’s the end of the day.

I rate the soreness 3/10. While going for a brisk walk, I want to make sure the soreness in my shoulder area doesn’t escalate above a 4, maximum of 5/10.


Or your back might be feeling very stiff in the morning before your usual jog and you’re not sure whether to set out or not…

If you’d rate that stiffness about a 5 start slowly and gently and see if the stiffness gets a bit better within a few minutes, if so, then gradually increase as you go. Stop if you start to feel tired, sore or stiff again.


Perhaps you might have a sore back and aren’t sure if you should do your exercise/s?

Again, rate your soreness and keep a close eye on how you feel during the activity…

as long as it doesn’t get worse (at least not more than one increment out of 10) then you should be fine.


There are some exceptions to this rule and I’ve got a few more paramenters to consider over the following weeks, so stay tuned. If you’re in doubt, reach out to me via email kym@kymsiddonsphysio.com.au


There are also some situations when you might be advised by your health professional to push through pain with exercise. This is sometimes the case with a chronic injury, such as a tendinopathy…


But you will be told exactly why you need to push through pain and be given strict instructions around exactly what to do that’s appropriate for your specific injury.


There are a few other boundaries you need to think about when exercising with an injury…

So keep an eye out for next week’s blog!


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