Exercising with pain: Should I?

Exercising with pain: Should I?

This is a question we get asked daily and one that everyone has an opinion on.


So what is the best course of action when dealing with pain while running, at the gym or just out on a walk? If we relate this back to our previous blog discussing the GLA:D program and in particular knee and hip osteoarthritis many people may be surprised by the answer.

When treating knee and hip osteoarthritis, there is typically a pain experience associated with the presentation (the whole reason to go to the doctor or GP in the first place). This pain experience typically leads many people to stop all exercise and wait for the pain levels to improve. With our ever-improving knowledge around this joint disease we know this is not the best approach.

But won’t this cause extra damage to my knee or hip joint?

No, as long as the exercise plan is modified and your are at a suitable level for your current aerobic and strength level then exercising will not cause further damage to the joint, in fact we know we can have a positive impact on the health of the joint long term if we exercise within a suitable level.

So pain during exercise is okay?

Yes, to a certain extent pain is okay during exercise. We don’t want to push to the absolute extremes and cause pain flair ups or be in intense pain during the activity.

A good rule is that anything under 2/10 on the pain scale is good, between 3-5/10 is an exercise we need to monitor the effects of post exercise and anything 6 or over/10 is something we need to modify to make it more comfortable.

The day post exercises is also extremely important, we accept we may have some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) but we do not want a spike in joint related pain that further limits our general activity for over 24 hours.

So where do I start?

Always start at a level that is comfortable and doesn’t push over the limits stated above. Everyone has a different starting point. This is why it is important to receive the advice of your GP, Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist so you begin at the right point and continue to progress through the stages to ensure you are safe and doing the right movements for your body.


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