The Essential Guide to Starting Your Fitness Journey Pain-Free

robbonser // February 28 // 0 Comments

Starting your fitness journey can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be daunting, especially if you’re dealing with pain or injuries. You may wonder how to approach exercise without causing further discomfort or worsening your condition. But don’t worry, we have helped hundreds of people do just that! With the right knowledge and support, you can start your journey pain-free with less pain and achieve your health and fitness goals safely and effectively. Now here is the first point to help clarify your expectations when starting your fitness journey while dealing with pain or injury – there will still be some level of pain. Completely painless is unfortunately not realistic when you’re getting started (I know, click bait right?), but that doesn’t mean all pain is ok. The general rule of thumb when it comes to pain and exercise is keep it to a score of 4 or less out of 10 while you’re exercising. If there is no lingering increase in pain then you’re safe. This can still be a daunting task, that’s why here at The MVMNT Plan we’ve created this essential guide covering seven topics that will help you understand how to begin your fitness journey with less pain.

Understanding your body and its limitations

Let’s be real – nobody knows your body better than you do. You’re the one who has lived with it your whole life! It’s important to listen to your body and understand its limitations before starting any exercise program, especially if you’re dealing with pain or injuries. Take some time to identify any areas of pain or discomfort and think about what movements or activities may cause them. For example, if you have knee pain, exercises that involve running or jumping may not be the best idea. Instead, low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, or swimming may be a better fit for you. Remember, everyone’s body is unique, so what works for someone else may not work for you. Understanding your body and its limitations is a crucial first step to starting your fitness journey with less pain. This will help with giving you a starting off point to take that big first step, but remember that is exactly what it is – the first step. This does not mean this is all you will be able to do, it’s just what you can do now.

Importance of seeking professional help

While going at it alone or following something you have seen on social media might seem like a more cost effective or easier option to get started, sometimes it may in fact delay or set back your progress – especially when working with chronic conditions, pain or injuries. As we said before, each person is unique, so when it comes to developing an effective and progressive exercise program seeking the help of an allied health professional is highly recommended and will in most cases pay off in the long run. Seeking professional help from an exercise physiologist (like us at The MVMNT Plan) can help you develop a safe and effective fitness program tailored to your specific needs and goals. An exercise physiologist is a university qualified allied health professional trained extensively in the rehabilitation and management of injuries and chronic medical conditions. An exercise physiologist can assess your current fitness level, discuss your goals and limitations, and design a personalised exercise plan (or we like to call it, a MVMNT Plan) that fits your lifestyle and goals while ensuring that it is safe, effective and helps you manage your pain.

(But don’t worry, if you do need to go it alone, at least initially, we still have some good tips coming up.)

Designing a program that meets your goals and abilities

Creating a workout plan that fits your goals and abilities is crucial for starting your fitness journey with less pain. This is where your exercise physiologist comes in – they’ll take into account your age, current fitness level, medical history, and any injuries or conditions you may have to design a personalized plan that works best for you. Together, you’ll set realistic goals and develop a program that suits your lifestyle and preferences, making sure that you’re on track to achieve your health and fitness goals and live a pain-free life.

Incorporating low-impact exercises

So you are kicking off this journey on your own, you might be worried about injuring yourself or making your pain worse. That’s where we recommend starting with low-impact exercises. These exercises are easy on your joints and muscles, so you can still get fit while reducing the risk of injury. Try incorporating activities like walking, cycling, swimming, or yoga into your routine. They’ll help you build endurance, strengthen your muscles, and increase your flexibility. Plus, they’re fun and easy to do!

These exercises are an excellent starting point for developing an exercise routine that will allow you to improve your function and exercise capacity. This will not only help with your pain, but it will also allow you to start increasing the variety and effectiveness of future exercise programmes.

Gradual progression

Taking it slow and steady is crucial when starting your fitness journey regardless of whether you are dealing with pain and injuries or not. This means starting at a comfortable level and gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your exercise to manage your levels of pain and help your body adapt. Your MVMNT Plan exercise physiologist can be there to guide you and provide advice on the appropriate level of intensity and duration for your fitness program, and help you increase it gradually over time. Remember, fitness is a journey, not a sprint, and gradual progression is key to achieving long-term success. Keep thinking of the big picture!

Listening to your body

When getting started (and throughout really), it’s crucial to pay attention to your body and notice any signs of pain or discomfort during exercise. Your body is unique, and it communicates with you in different ways, so it’s important to understand these signals. Many people can recognise the difference between their normal pain, ‘good’ exercise pain or a new ‘bad’ pain (if not our exercise physiologists can help). If you feel pain or discomfort during exercise, it’s crucial to modify or stop the activity to prevent injury or worsening your pain (remember the <4 out of 10 guideline from earlier). Your MVMNT Plan exercise physiologist can help you recognise these signals and teach you how to modify or stop an exercise if needed. By listening to your body and adjusting your fitness program accordingly, you can avoid unnecessary pain and injury and achieve your health goals safely.

Set S.M.A.R.T. goals to ensure long-term success

Setting S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals is an effective way to ensure long-term success in your fitness journey. 

Specific goals define precisely what you want to achieve, such as losing 5 kilograms or reducing your blood pressure by 10 points. 

Measurable goals allow you to track your progress and determine whether you are on track to achieving your goals. 

Achievable goals are realistic and take into account your current fitness level, lifestyle, and other factors that may impact your ability to achieve your goals. 

Relevant goals are meaningful and align with your overall fitness goals, such as improving your cardiovascular health or reducing your risk of chronic disease. 

Time-bound goals have a specific deadline, which creates a sense of urgency and motivates you to stay on track.

For example, if your overall fitness goal is to improve your cardiovascular health, a S.M.A.R.T. goal could be to walk for 30 minutes, five days a week for the next three months. This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You can track your progress by using a pedometer or fitness app to monitor the number of steps you take and the distance you cover (some will even remind you to keep at it). Walking for 30 minutes is achievable and realistic for most people, and it aligns with your overall fitness goal of improving your cardiovascular health. Also, if you’re just getting started on your journey and you’re dealing with pain or injury, then simply walking 30 minutes a day can help to reduce pain sensitivity – meaning the amount of baseline pain you feel day to day could be reduced, allowing you to feel like you could expand your fitness into other modalities. Finally, the goal has a specific deadline of three months, which creates a sense of urgency and motivates you to stay on track.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals can help you achieve long-term success in your fitness journey. By defining specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals, you can track your progress, stay motivated, and achieve your fitness goals safely and in less pain.

So, let’s wrap it up…

Starting your fitness journey in a way that is manageable with your pain or injuries is achievable with the right knowledge and support. By taking the time to understand your body and its limitations, seeking professional help, designing a program that meets your goals and abilities, incorporating low-impact exercises, gradually increasing your intensity and duration, and listening to your body, you can ensure that you begin your fitness journey on the right foot.

Remember, starting a fitness journey is not a race, it’s a marathon. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals to ensure long-term success and don’t get discouraged by setbacks. With the guidance of an exercise physiologist (like here at The MVMNT Plan), you can start your fitness journey safely and effectively, and achieve your goals in a way that is both sustainable and enjoyable.

So take the first step today and start your fitness journey towards a pain-free life. With the right mindset and support, you can achieve your health and fitness goals and live your best life.

If you would like help from us a The MVMNT Plan you can book a FREE 30 minute Phone Consultation.

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