Navigating Chronic Pain: A Guide to Fitness and Well-being

Chronic pain is a relentless companion for millions around the world, affecting not just physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. In the realm of fitness, where pushing boundaries and striving for progress are often the norms, living with chronic pain can present unique challenges. However, it’s essential to recognise that fitness is not exclusive to those without pain; rather, it’s about finding a balance that works for your body and your circumstances.

For me being an owner of a 24/7 gym and training institute suffering from Chronic Pain is not something I talk about however, it’s a very real reality for me. I have struggled for years, well actually over a decade I have been in pain. I have suffered from poor medical care, from constant setbacks, lack of consistency, and really a massive lack of support from professionals when I needed it. A lot, of my drive to keep going comes from my business and my strong belief that pain will not control my life. Some days the pain is so debilitating I cannot move, I cry myself to sleep most nights, I have been crawled up on the toilet screaming as my mama bangs on the door to let her in, I have had my dad carry me into the hospital when it got so bad only to be told it’s not important enough, see your GP,  I’ve had why me days and it’s confronting to say but also days where I just wanted to gone forever.

When I say I get it, I do. I have tried every natural remedy, surgery, different specialists, float tank, medication, acupuncture, turmeric, magnesium, physiotherapy, massage, counseling, anti-depressants, muscle relaxants and so much more. For me, my biggest change has ironically been being consistent in the gym & using a combination of the above – the pain hasn’t stopped or got better but my mind has got a hell of a lot strong since. I have a bad track record of stopping, starting, stopping, and starting a very frustrating quality of mine and one I was previously ashamed of. Since December last year, I committed myself to training 6x a week regardless of whether it’s for 10 minutes or 2 hours I would show up. It was and still is on some days so difficult a lot of my medication makes me extremely tired and causes weakness however, I have a training partner who shows up for me when I can’t show up for myself. I still use a lot of the aforementioned therapies to help as I know it will never go away but I always have to remember that inside our community everyone is suffering with something and there are a lot of people who never get the opportunity to train. I GET to train, I don’t have to train, its a privilege. Now, don’t get me wrong it in NO WAY negates your reality, your pain, or your journey but for me it helps to know I’m not alone. At Ora we are transparent with our clients & our members for a reason so you have the opportunity to lean and learn from each other. Chronic Pain sucks. It’s that simple but in our community know your not a lone and we are all here to be each others cheerleaders. Here are some tips from me to you that may help:

1.The Reality of Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can be a rollercoaster ride of good days and bad days, where even the simplest tasks can feel daunting. The thought of engaging in fitness activities might seem overwhelming, and the fear of exacerbating pain can be a significant deterrent. Additionally, the societal pressure to conform to a certain fitness standard can lead to feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Don’t let it, keep committed to your original goal and just change the plan. If your in so much pain don’t do weight training do a 10-20 minute stretching session on the gym floor it’s not about having a perfect session its about movement of some kind and getting out of the house.

2. Setting Realistic Goals

When it comes to fitness with chronic pain, setting realistic goals is paramount. It’s crucial to acknowledge that your journey may look different from others’, and that’s perfectly okay. Start by identifying what you hope to achieve especially setting a quality of life goal not just a fitness one, whether it’s improving mobility, building strength, or enhancing overall well-being. Break down your goals into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate each milestone along the way. Remember, progress is progress, no matter how small. One of the most impactful strategies I employ for goal setting with my clients involves encouraging them to establish an outfit goal. Selecting an attire that resonates with them, evoking a sense of confidence and empowerment, serves as a tangible benchmark for progress. This approach emphasises prioritising personal satisfaction and self-assurance over numerical metrics such as scales and measurements. By focusing on attaining the desired fit of their chosen outfit, individuals can cultivate a positive relationship with their bodies and celebrate their achievements along their fitness journey.

3. Finding What Works for You

Every individual’s experience with chronic pain is unique, so it’s essential to find fitness activities that work for your body and your pain levels. Experiment with different activities and listen to your body to determine what feels best for you. A strength based program works best for me and even tho it does cause DOM’s some days it’s a good type of pain vs the normal pain I feel.

4. Prioritising Self-Care

Incorporating self-care practices into your fitness routine is vital for managing chronic pain effectively. Prioritise adequate rest, proper nutrition, and stress management techniques such as , massage, meditation or deep breathing exercises. Don’t hesitate to seek support from healthcare professionals, I have now found an incredible GP but it has taken years I only found him in January this year.

5. Embracing the Journey 

Above all, remember that fitness is not just about reaching a destination; it’s about embracing the journey and honoring your body along the way this is lifelong. Be gentle with yourself on the difficult days and celebrate your victories, no matter how small. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and if you don’t have that turn to your gym community – Someone who understand and respect your journey someone who will listen to you but NOT encourage a pity party. Some days we need to express ourselves but don’t fall into a negative trap. And most importantly, never lose sight of the incredible strength and resilience that resides within you. YOU GOT THIS.

As always this blog post is about our personal experience and a guide for you, always consult a professional if needed and reach out. See our amazing health hub professionals too here: