Don’t let painful, swollen joints be an excuse How can you take care of pain while you do more what you enjoy?

I’ve seen many patients coming to me after an injury on the cricket field complaining about how they will never feel the same about going back to playing cricket. What is important in sports like cricket is to warm up properly before you start playing the game. However, don’t overdo the warm up. You can reduce the risk of future injury through warm up and cool down sessions. Exercising at intervals throughout the game and resting between activities can also help reduce the risk of injuries and pain. Using the right protective gear like gloves and leg pads and building up your stamina and strength will all help you enjoy that game of cricket while taking care that your pain doesn’t aggravate.

Pain often causes a change in the levels of physical activity. In my practice, I’ve observed that patients tend to respond to pain in two ways. While there are some who may give up physical activities/exercise to avoid pain, there are others who tend to push even harder, determined to beat the pain. But both extremes can lead to trouble – avoiding activity could lead to more pain and disability while pushing harder could lead to pain flares.  

If you want to continue playing your favorite sport but you worry about how to manage pain, here are some general measures you can follow:

  • Set realistic goals and pace yourself – this is practical advice to avoid the possibility of pain flares. As you get used to activity, you can slowly increase the intensity. There’s a phrase - “the slower you go, the faster you get there”
  • Keep your body hydrated – It is important to remain hydrated in order to retain physical fitness.
  • Regular activity is important - Exercise should not become a chore, but an enjoyable part of life. In fact, pick activities that you can do with your family and friends and build it into a routine so that you are likely to keep up the activity. Specific exercises may be used to increase the strength or movement of particular muscles or joints. Regular activity can also help increase muscle strength and endurance and the level of fitness.                                                    
  • Technique matters – For your sport of choice, learn the correct technique for using sports equipment to minimize pain and injury.

Being active may hurt but it does not mean you are getting injured or harmed. It can help you recover and get back some of the life you may have lost due to persistent pain.