With gyms, physiotherapists, and swimming pools closed due to the coronavirus crisis, it can feel like you’re unable to work out safely at home. But there’s plenty of safe home workouts you can try!
Staying active and working out regularly can help reduce your chronic pain. Sitting around at home without exercise can make your pain feel worse – and that means you’ll feel like exercising even less.
The good news is that there are lots of online resources to help you find the home workouts you enjoy. You don’t even need a lot of space or special equipment for many of the workouts, either. Try these ways of exercising at home to manage your chronic pain!
Walking and Running Routines
If you can safely get out to exercise, a walk or jog around a few blocks can boost your mood as well as your pain-relieving endorphins.
If you’re not used to running, start off with regular walks. Slowly introduce a few minutes of running alternated with walking, and build up the time you run. Try the free trial at Aaptiv for the Walk to Run One Mile training course. It’ll keep you motivated and help you train safely.
You don’t have to run, though: walking is still fantastic for your health, and is a great weight-bearing exercise to keep your bones strong.
Not able to go out? If you can, invest in a treadmill to carry out your exercise at home. If that’s not possible, use the space you’ve got to walk back and forth at a high pace. Walk around your home more, too. Not sure how? Try taking each single piece of laundry one-by-one to the washer and drying rack – you’ll quickly build in a workout then!
Indoor biking has become more popular as virtual rides are easy to find. You can load up a video on YouTube and follow the path just as if you were riding it in real life!
If you need more motivation and like to have an instructor, look up spin classes on YouTube. If you’re really serious about at-home biking, you could invest in Peloton – but at a couple of thousand dollars (plus subscription), that’s certainly not for everyone.
Some people prefer to listen to music or podcasts instead of looking at screens when they’re working out on their bike. Try CycleCast, a free app with guided audio workouts combined with music.
Biking is great for cardio exercise – but be careful of joints like your knees, wrists, and back. A poor cycling posture can exacerbate pain. If you feel pain during your workout, adapt or stop.
Pilates and yoga are both excellent at improving your core stability and flexibility. Chronic pain sufferers often have tight muscles surrounding the area of pain. This is because we naturally tense up when we’re in pain. The tension means we often move rigidly, reducing the range of movement and lessening the chance of further pain. However, this tension causes knots in the muscle and stiffness in your movement.
Try an online class like the ones run by Gaia Online Yoga for a guided workout. There are often several adaptations you can use to make sure you’re working out within a comfortable range. Beginners or those with severe pain can modify workouts with ease to slowly build flexibility without straining anything.
Simple stretches can help you stay fit, too. Healthline has some easy exercises for chronic pain here – including how to do simple moves like a lower back and glute stretch.
Weight and Strength Training
Cardio and flexibility are essential elements to keeping fit. However, weight-bearing exercise and strength training is the best way to maintain your body’s functional fitness to overcome your pain.
Strengthening the muscles around your injury or problematic joints will help you to move more freely and support the painful area. Strength training doesn’t mean lifting super-heavy barbells or lots of pull-ups.
At-home strength training workouts can be easily done in a small space, too. Take a look at body conditioning workouts like the ‘Prison Workout’ – so called because all exercises can be done in a very small space and require no equipment.
Using your own bodyweight helps you build strength in a functional way. You’ll soon find basic movements like bending to pick something up, walking up or down stairs, and carrying groceries all become much easier.
Bodyweight exercises also have a range of levels to achieve. This makes it easy for beginners to start training – but also gives you a progression route as you get stronger, too. Variations on each exercise mean you can alter the difficulty and adapt your workout to ensure you manage your pain while staying fit.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
If you’re lucky enough to have a swimming pool or even a hot tub at home, working out in water is great for building strength without putting strain on your joints.
Swimming is great for cardiovascular exercise and helps mobility. It’s non-weight bearing, so you’ll need to do some other strength workouts each week to balance this out. However, swimming is ideal if you struggle with painful joints precisely because you don’t have to bear weight on the joint.
If you’ve got a hot tub, you can still work out in water! Waist-high water is ideal for working out with knee, hip, or lower back injuries – especially if the water is warm. Squats, knee raises, and walking around all help you gain strength. Plus, you can relax in the tub afterwards, too!
Part of reducing your pain through fitness includes working out your mind, too. Guided meditation can help you focus your mind and teach you how to mentally cope with your pain.
You can find online videos for guided meditations – but some people find the visual aspect distracting. Look on apps like Spotify for free guided meditations aimed at chronic pain sufferers. Taking time to learn these meditation techniques will help you manage your pain in daily life, too.
One-to-One Personal Training Video Sessions
If you usually have a personal trainer or go to a gym regularly, you’re probably missing this part of your daily routine while everything is shut down.
Get in touch to see if your gym is running virtual classes online, or if your personal trainer will run Skype or Zoom one-to-one sessions with you at home. This will keep you in touch with familiar faces – and make sure you’re working out as safely as possible with your injury or pain condition.
Home Workout Tips for Chronic Pain Management
Now you can see how easy it is to start a workout routine at home to combat your chronic pain, it’s tempting to go all-out right away!
Follow these tips to make sure you’re working out safely and improving your fitness (rather than risking further injury).
- Take rest days between your workouts to aid recovery and muscle repair
- If you feel pain during a workout, stop
- Adapt workouts to your level – it’s OK to do easier exercises if you can then complete the full workout
- Warm-up for ten minutes before each workout
- Stretch and cool down after every workout, too
- Use support aids, like knee braces, if you feel you need them.
Following these tips will help you stay active and enjoy your workouts. It’ll also reduce the risk of further injury and keep you in good health for your next exercise session!