If you are like many of the people I talk to on a regular basis, you want to get in shape. You want to have more energy, you want to look better, you want to feel better. Maybe you were athletic as a youngster but you’ve been away from the gym for a while. Or maybe you’ve never stepped foot in a gym in your life.

You know you need to do something, but you’re not sure where to start.

The thing is, the very reason you need to exercise is the reason you’re afraid of taking that first step. That reason is pain. It could be something you’ve been suffering from for many years, or maybe you just started hitting the gym hard and you woke up one day feeling like you got run over by a truck. Physical pain and emotional pain are one of the most common reasons someone avoids exercise. Sometimes the reason for the initial weight gain can be traced back to the injury itself.

In recent years, we’ve had many more people with illness, injuries, or pain contact us for help with their exercise regimen. It’s exciting to see the drive of someone willing to put in the work despite the obstacles. As health and fitness coaches, we cannot diagnose or treat pain, but we have a fantastic network of competent health care practitioners to whom we can refer our clients. And most importantly, we know how to work around your pain to make you stronger and more resilient. Movement is a powerful tool to combat pain, as long as you remember these guidelines:

First off, learn efficient technique. Exercise shouldn’t exacerbate pain, and most people can move beautifully if they take the time to learn, using correct progressions. This is where a knowledgeable coach can help. Even if your gym has mirrors, you can’t see yourself from every angle, and a good coach will have something you might not have: experience working with clients experiencing pain. That experience is invaluable when it comes to exercise selection, and developing a keen eye for safe, effective movement.

Second, identify your weak links. A lack of flexibility in the ankles or lack of strength in the gluteal muscles are common causes of back pain. Lack of flexibility in the shoulders and upper spine, or lack of upper back strength are commonly found in those with upper body pain. Including strength and flexibility training as part of your exercise program can prevent injuries and possibly even help alleviate pain.

Lastly, support your exercise regimen with lifestyle and nutrition. What you eat, how you sleep, and how you manage stress all have a significant impact on how your body performs, how your body recovers, and how your body handles pain.

Not sure where to start with a nagging injury? Click here to book a No-Sweat Intro and we can help turn your injury into an opportunity for continued growth.