The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Activity and Pacing

It is very common for people with long-term pain to do less over time. Following an injury, pain can be really useful in reminding us to slow down and avoid further damage as we heal. However, when pain persists even after the damage has healed, inactivity is no longer helpful and can even be detrimental to our wellbeing.  Not doing enough can lead to muscle weakness, stiffness, and low mood, which in turn leads to more pain.

By gradually increasing your activity, you can reverse this negative cycle.

When you first increase your activity, it is likely you will still feel pain. That’s okay! Remember that pain does not equal damage. The important thing is to pace yourself.  This could mean doing less than your best on a good day, but could also mean pushing yourself on a bad day. You should aim to gradually increase your activity even if pain is present, but stop activity before the pain becomes unbearable.

You might find it useful to plan your activity. Adjust how you carry out your tasks so you can achieve them - this could involve adding in rest breaks, planning your journeys, and asking for help when it’s needed.

If you like to learn more about how to be active whilst living with long-term pain, go to our activity, pacing, and goal-setting section.