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  • Anne-Marie Mougeot

Navigating Exercise Following Injury or Pain

Sometimes it can be tricky to find an exercise groove when things change because of pain or injury. ⁣There can be a number of perceived barriers when it comes to approaching exercise while recovering from an injury or pain.

Fear avoidance, worries about re-injury, or confusion about what is or isn’t safe movement can make it challenging to reframe your exercise program while your injury is healing or recovering from a pain flare up. I hope the following tips are helpful. 

Spread shorter bouts of movement or exercise throughout the day

Not all activity need to be done one concentrated bout. Rather than completing all of your exercises or household activities in one session, you can try splitting them up with longer rest periods in between. This is referred to as pacing.  For example, if walking for 30 min is aggravating, try two 10-minute walks. This strategy can be applied to both resistance training or functional tasks.

Keep doing exercises for non-injured body parts while integrating rehab exercises 

Even if your shoulder is hurting, you may still be able to exercise & move your lower body. An example might be to work in your shoulder rehab exercises between sets of squats & lunges so that you still reap the benefits of getting a good workout in while working towards injury rehabilitation, win-win!

Consider whether you prefer exercising at home or in a gym setting depending on the equipment availability, motivational factors, and accessibility. 

Experiment with Load, Gravity and  Buoyancy 

Think about your movement goals, assess where you are at, and work forward from there. Here are a few examples of using gravity & the buoyancy of moving in water to your advantage.

  • Use lighter weights or no weights at all to build back up your strength

  • Perform exercises while sitting or laying down to change the load (ex. a bridge instead of a squat) 

  • Get into the swimming pool (if you don’t like the pool, skip this one), the buoyancy allows you to move without impact and gravitational forces

Be open to trying different types of movement or exercise

Our concept of ‘fitness’ or exercise may require some reframing when working through an injury or pain. 

Tai chi for chronic pain

As you bridge the gap between activity avoidance and moving towards goal-specific exercises, it might be helpful to explore other movement options that feel safe & good in your body. These might include Tai Chi, Chair Yoga, or Qi Gong, which help to relax the body, connect with breath, and to move mindfully.

Rehabilitation & the journey to healing is typically not a linear process and might require some educated creativity to find what suits your individual needs and doing activities you enjoy. 

While rest is often a temporary part of the healing and rehabilitation process, that doesn’t mean that all exercise should go out the window. ⁣

Being open-minded about modifying exercises in the short term can help to keep you active and thus continue to enjoy the benefits of movement and exercise while caring for your body and allowing it to heal. ⁣

If you’re not sure where to start, or are worried about what exercises and activities are safe, make sure to reach out to a qualified practitioner who can do an assessment and work with you to create a plan. ⁣

𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘮𝘦𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘥𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘳. ⁣

Are you recovering from an injury or experiencing pain with exercise?

What kind of support would be helpful, let me know!


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