When Moving Is Painful

I’ve been really struggling with exercise lately, as in I am feeling pain with any movement and so have been avoiding it too much. My morning exercises have gone by the wayside and my evening routine is becoming a distant memory. What to do when moving is painful?

One of the terrible truths is that the longer I go without exercising, the harder it is to get started again. Swimming is my favorite way to get exercise (actually, I do aquatic stretches and aerobics), but logistical problems outside my control put a stop to pool access that I have not yet been able to regain.

Could swimming be the best exercise for those living with RA?

The reason I love the water is that it is easier and more supportive of my joints. I do feel rusty when I get started, but always feel a little looser after I finish than when I began. And I can always end with a short stint in the whirlpool, which always helps to alleviate my rheumatoid arthritis aches. Actually, on very bad days I go straight to the whirlpool and do light exercises in there so as to move my joints while primarily focusing on soothing my joint pains.

Recently, I just have been very achy. Not even moving, and I am achy! I wake up feeling tired and achy. And then by the end of the day, even more achy. I have found it impossible to motivate myself to exercise when I feel both exhausted and pained by my RA to this degree.

Of course, it is important to point out that maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad if I were doing my exercises! Guilty! I have been indulging in the whining, when I should be doing at least a little more physical activity.

Baby steps towards feeling better through activity

My head has been losing this battle and it needs to get a better game. I have to start with baby steps—doing a little joint stretching in the morning, then middle of the day, then evening. I can’t start out with my walking circuit and weight-lifting when I’ve been out of the habit for so many weeks.

In the past, I have found it helpful to track my activity because it becomes a sort of competition with myself. Can I do it again today? Can I aim for more tomorrow? Can I do it for so many days in a row? But after some time, I usually do feel better and stronger. I won’t be competing in the Olympics, but maybe the day will become a little easier.

When I am in this much constant discomfort, I do need to pay attention. I can’t over do the exercise as that could result in injury or sliding back even further into inactivity. Too much, too soon is a bad thing. But too little activity is also bad for me.

During my stints in physical therapy, they would recommend that I take a little something for my pain ahead of time. If I did that before leaving home, enough time would pass until the appointment to have a little preventative medicine in action. Perhaps this is something I should try now with a little prednisone, but before doing that I will consult my doctor. If it helps to get in a little more activity, I would then be able to wind it down as I feel better.

Exercise is not only about maintaining my RA as best as possible, but also keeping up my strength and endurance. After a period of not enough physical activity, I feel my energy is harder to keep up and that I have to strain to accomplish what I want to do. Time to move beyond the pain and get back on that exercise horse.

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