When you are in pain, the very idea of exercising may seem like an impossibility.
On the other hand, study after study shows that exercise is an important part of healing. No matter whether you were involved in an accident or have back pain for some other reason, there is going to come a time when you will have to work the muscles in your back in order to achieve a full recovery. Being able to stay mentally focused on your task is essential if you expect to succeed. Here are some things that may help you keep your focus during a workout period.
Would you feel comfortable cooking in your living room one day and the bedroom the next? If not, then you might see why it is important to have a dedicated space for doing back pain exercises. Here are some ways this can help you maintain a good mental focus while exercising:
- You will be able to leave mats and other equipment in place. This will make it easier to get right into your routine instead of having to do something else before you get started.
- You will be able to put up pictures or other inspirational media that will inspire you when you are working.
- As you develop the habit of exercising, just going to a specific area will be part of preparing yourself mentally to work on your back pain exercises. This will reduce the amount of time and effort required to get mentally prepared to work out.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Over the years, we’ve all heard that you should wear loose clothing when doing exercises. Quite frankly,if you aren’t comfortable in loose, bulky, or baggy clothes, they aren’t about to help you while exercising.
You would be better off aiming for what you are comfortable in as long as it doesn’t restrict your range of motion. For example, if you are more comfortable in shorts than jogging pants, then go ahead and wear shorts. If you feel more comfortable in a button down shirt, then wear that instead of a T-shirt or pull over shirt.
Unfortunately, footwear is one place where you may not be able to choose comfort over sensible support for your feet and back. While some exercises can be done bare foot, others are best done in sneakers.
As a case in point, I love to run around the house and yard wearing light weight shoes with the heels folded in. When I go for a walk, or get on the treadmill, however, I have to wear shoes that are heavier and support my feet better. Even though I can get away with wearing lighter shoes, they can and do hurt my feet and back very quickly.
Aside from increased wear on your feet and back, lack of proper footwear can also be dangerous when you are working out. It is all too easy to skid across a mat or have some other accident that will be made worse by improper footwear. Sadly, even “skid proof” socks are no substitute for good quality shoes.
Play Music that Inspires You
It is very easy for your mind to wander when you have to do something over and over again. During the early stages of your exercise program, getting the steps and the form right may be enough to keep your mind occupied. After that, it may become much harder to stay focused on what you are doing.
Listening to music while you are exercising can help keep you focused on your current activities. Chances are, what I consider motivating and inspiring for an exercise routine may not be what works best for you. Here are some things that might help you choose the best music:
- Avoid music that makes you feel mellow or overly relaxed. Remember, you have to keep your body moving and don’t want to wind up sitting down and daydreaming instead of exercising.
- If you are using Pilates or relatively still postures, choose music that relaxes you without making you feel sleepy or tired.
- On the other side of the spectrum, avoid music that makes you feel overly excited or like you want to do dozens more repetitions of an exercise than you have planned. At first glance, you may actually think this would be the best kind of music because it motivates you as much as possible. Unfortunately, this kind of music can also make you more careless as you try to keep up with it.
- Don’t automatically go with what works for everyone else. If heavy metal or hard rock helps you stay on track without going into over drive, then go ahead and use it. Or, if you are more comfortable with classical music, soft rock, or even gospel music, just go with what works for you.
The time that you spend on your exercise routine should be like your time behind the wheel or going to the bathroom. There is absolutely no excuse for certain distractions while you are engaged in these activities. While you are exercising, here are some things that you can do to eliminate distractions:
- Power your cell phone all the way down and set it someplace other than clipped to your clothes. If you have music on your phone that you want to listen to, get an mp3 player and download the songs to it.
- Keep water in the room with you. During your exercise routine, you may need to have one or two scheduled breaks. Since hydration is important, having water in the room will help you achieve that goal.
- If the room has a door on it, lock it. This is your time to take care of your health. Let other family members or house mates know that when you are exercising, you need to keep distractions to a minimum.
- Turn off the radio and the TV. Unless there is a major catastrophe that requires an immediate evacuation, there is no reason to have these devices on. All they will do is rob you of your attention when you should be focusing on your exercises.
- Put up pictures of the exercise steps you are doing. Even though you may feel confident when you work with a trainer, the first few days exercising at home can be difficult. In particular, it is very easy to forget the steps to complete one repetition of more complicated exercises. Putting up pictures in your exercise area will eliminate the need to look around the house for instructions. When you have everything in the room that you need for your workout, you are far less likely to wander around and wind up doing something else with the allotted time.
Change Your Routine From Time to Time
Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? Unfortunately, doing the exact same exercises day in and day out can feel like that. When it comes to resolving back pain, that boredom can increase your risk of injury or cause you to stop trying altogether.
Changing your routine will help eliminate boredom. It also gives you a chance to exercise other muscles. While you may not give it much thought, your body is constantly looking to optimize every motion. No matter how much you may be looking to work your body harder, it can and will optimize to use just the main muscles.
Over time, if you only do one or two types of exercises, smaller or weaker muscles will actually become disbalanced in terms of strength when compared to those being worked more. This, in turn, will increase your risk of strains and sprains.
Since you are already targeting your back with these exercises, there is every possibility you will do more harm than good. In most cases, you will wind up straining smaller muscles, tendons, or ligaments that were not evenly targeted by your exercise routine.
This is just one of many reasons why it is so important to work with a fitness trainer when choosing an exercise program. You should always ask about alternative exercises that will target different groups of core muscles as well as the smaller ones that can sprain or strain at the slightest effort. At the very least, when you have several different sets of routines to choose from, you can focus on your activities instead of that nagging sense that you may be doing something wrong.
Many times, people believe mental focus is something that must be worked at. Oddly enough, if you have to force yourself to focus on something, then you are losing well over half your mental effort on that as opposed to what you want to use your mental focus to achieve. While building good mental focus is not always easy when you are in pain, there are some simple steps you can take to help you stay with your exercise program and get the most from it.