We know what pacing means in the context of running or exercise or “pacing oneself” with other activities such as drinking or working. When it comes to chronic pain, pacing is a skill that helps a person with pain to manage productivity and also increase ability to tolerate activity. Individuals with chronic pain tend to have some level of ebb and flow with their pain, some days are worse, and other days are better. On the days that are good, the individual tends to overcompensate with accomplishing tasks and engaging in activity they are not able to on bad days. What happens is, they exhaust themselves and then tend to experience a drop in energy and increase in pain the following day/days.
Pacing can be challenging but is a useful way to try to manage the ups and downs. This comes down to organization and planning.
How to Activity Pace:
Step 1: Determine what your most important activities are (playing with your kids, household tasks, walking the dog).
Step 2: Creating a schedule with these activities in it for small bits of time, break it up into parts which will help you to move around and engage in our next step.
Step 3: Planned breaks in activity. Especially after periods of activity, build in periods of relaxation, stretching, light walking prior to returning to activity.
- This cycle of activity and relaxation will be repeated daily.
- When you feel good, do not do more than the schedule allows, and on a bad day, try to keep up with your goals.
- Avoid remaining in one position for more than 30 minutes.
- Slowly increase activity as tolerated
I have attached an example of a worksheet you can use to plan pacing until it becomes a habit and second nature for you.