Managing a pain condition isn’t a one-person job. It requires a team of experts, from physicians to pain specialists to therapists. The most important member of this team is you, and one of the best things you can do for yourself is exercise. So this January at Pain Doctor, we did our best to arm you with everything you need to get your new year off to a healthy start.

Perhaps the most difficult part of any fitness plan is getting inspired to follow it, so we gave you lots of ways to get excited about exercise.

TED talks are a fantastic source of inspiration, but there are so many that it’s easy to get pulled in and spend hours watching one after another. To save you from this risk, we found five of 2014’s most inspiring TED talks. All of them give messages about going for what you want, no matter the obstacles, but in very different ways and from very different people.

Social media is changing the way we interact with the world. In January, we showed you ways to use social media to get inspired about fitness. Our post about Pinterest fitness boards highlighted several great Pinterest boards to find information about fitness. After you’ve found all the inspiration you need to get moving, we explained the importance of keeping track of your exercise activities, saying:

“Researchers found adults whose doctors asked them about exercise regimens lost more weight and saw greater declines in blood sugar levels than patients whose doctors didn’t ask, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.”

If you don’t want to let your doctor take the reins when it comes to keeping up with your exercise routine, you can track the information yourself. To help you do this, we found five smartphone apps that can help you store all your fitness-related information.

For those who really love social media, we also found fitness-centric people across several social media platforms. Some of them focused on eating healthy, while others had profiles centered around health. Others were all about overall wellness. We gave you lots of people to check out so you can find the ones that inspire you most.

Sometimes, though, there’s nothing that can replace a book when it comes to inspiration and education. That’s why we also searched out some great health and fitness books this January, from books about healthy eating to jumpstarting a fitness plan to the science behind self-control.

A pain condition, a disability, or even a cold snap can bring the best fitness intentions tumbling down, so we showed you how to keep up with your workouts even when it gets tough.

As difficult as it may be to start a new exercise routine when you’re in pain, studies have shown that it’s one of the best ways to manage pain. In our post about exercising with pain, we noted that:

“Exercising while in pain may seem counterintuitive, but studies have shown that exercise can manage pain just as well as – or in some cases, better than – medications.”

Additionally, we pointed out that exercise might do more than just reduce pain. It can help you sleep better, which is a big bonus since people with chronic pain often have trouble sleeping.

The benefits of exercise can be just as huge for anyone with a disability, but figuring out exercises can be tricky. We suggested asking a physician, personal trainer, or physical therapist, as well as looking for gyms or exercise locations that offer modified classes for disabilities. Chair exercises are also a good choice and fairly easy to find online. We even suggested a thoroughly 21st-century solution: video games. Systems like the Wii or XBOX Kinect offer lots of ways to get customized exercise from home.

Since the temperatures have stubbornly hovered around freezing this January, hopefully you’ve found our post about exercising in the cold helpful, too. After stressing the importance of staying healthy during cold weather, we provided lots of tips to stay safe while exercising outdoors during the winter. With the recent deep-freezes, we also hope you’ve taken advantage of our suggestions for indoor exercise alternatives.

Coming up with just the right fitness routine is difficult, so we tried to find ways to make it a little easier for you.

Our post on creating a custom workout routine was full of online resources to help you build your perfect routine. If the lunges and squats get old, check out our post on having fun with exercise to find ways to make your exercise a social event, as well as several unorthodox exercise suggestions.

Fitness can get expensive, so our post on workout equipment this January gave lots of budget-friendly ways to find what you need. Used, refurbished equipment costs less than new equipment, but if it’s still too expensive, have your old equipment tuned up. You can even find older equipment at garage sales or thrift stores and have it checked out for safety by a professional. We also provided several household alternatives to workout equipment, like bottled drinks for weights or pantyhose for resistance bands. We even found a fitness routine that uses playground equipment, so you can head to your local park for a free workout.

Additionally, we highlighted a rather under-utilized way to learn how to exercise safely and effectively: physical therapy.

First we broke down what chronic pain is and how a physical therapist can help you reduce that pain. Chronic pain is often the result of nerves that get so used to sensing pain that they get stuck on “high alert” and look for pain in every sensation. In physical therapy, your nerves can re-learn how to sense different body sensations without pain. The physical therapist can also show you exercises that build up strength and flexibility slowly, correct exercises you might be doing incorrectly, and reduce your risk of falls by increasing your balance and coordination.

A physical therapist can also help you interpret your pain. For example, if an exercise causes a new sort of pain, the therapist can discuss it with you to figure out if it’s normal, post-exercise aches, or if it’s indicative of a bigger problem.

These benefits also hold true for anyone with an exercise injury. We gave you tips to avoid exercise injuries. Then we explained how to treat minor injuries at home with the RICE method. Lastly, we emphasized that sometimes getting physical therapy after an exercise injury is the best way to heal and to prevent future injuries.

We hope that this January we’ve given you all the tools you need to start an inspired, effective fitness plan, so that you can look forward to a healthier year.

What was your favorite January post on Pain Doctor?

Image by Nathan Forget via Flickr


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