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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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