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    10 Ways to Tone Your Body When You’re in Chronic Pain

    Traditional “workouts” are tough if you are in chronic pain.

    Over the years I had to develop my own easy and creative ways to maintain physical strength during autoimmune arthritis flare-ups.

    It’s important to keep your body strong for many reasons including circulation, detoxification, bone strength, muscle strength, digestive health, core strength and peace of mind.

    Here are a few strengthening ideas to get you started:

    1. Isolated Exercises in Bed:

    A lot of times there is too much pain to even get out of bed. It’s really important to at least maintain current strength in this situation. You can do many isolated exercises from bed, like leg lifts, bicycle exercise, arm circles and crunches. Watch a pilates video on Youtube for more ideas!

    2. Balance Board:

    This is an item you can buy on It’s a tool for developing core strength and it doesn’t require a lot of movement or pressure to be put on your joints or muscles. You can see what the board looks like here. You basically stand on the center of the wobbly board and tighten your abdomen and thighs to keep the board balanced. You would repeat this for several sets. Start with a small session and see how your body responds.

    3. Swimming / Water Aerobics:

    This is a popular option for those in extreme lower body pain. The water takes the weight and pressure off the joints in your lower body. It frees you up to move into positions that would be too painful out of the water. If you’re new to water aerobics or water exercising, you could start with treading water for repeated sessions, or walking back and forth slowly through the 5′ deep section. Also, check to see if you community pool offers classes.

    4. Arm Exercises:

    If your pain is in your lower body, focus on upper body exercises. You can do repetitive arm circles, use arm weights, do pull ups or push ups, and more.

    5. Leg Exercises:

    If your pain is in the upper body, focus on lower body exercises. You can do toe lifts, squats, leg lifts, or leg circles and the cycling exercise while lying on your back in bed, and more.

    6. Aerial Yoga:

    This is something I just recently started. It has been wonderful for reducing neck and back pain from caused by tension, compression and gravity. I am recommending it for those with chronic pain because a lot of the exercises are done while suspended in a hammock-style fabric, which takes the weight off your lower body. You do need to be able to use your arms and hands, though. This exercise style is going to be best for those of you with a dance or fitness background because it takes some confidence and body awareness. However, if you’re new, don’t be dissuaded, just start with a beginner class and be patient with yourself.

    7. Pilates:

    You may not have expected to see this one on the list, since it has a reputation for being a tad intense. Most of the exercises are actually done in a lying-down position, which is great for those with pain in the feet, legs and arms. I found it very helpful when I was dealing with foot pain. Pilates tones your muscles through repetitive isolated exercises. You can start with a home DVD from, videos from Youtube, or jump right in and go to a class at your neighborhood studio. To find a studio in your neighborhood, search the web for “pilates studio in [enter your city or zip]”.

    8. Hydrate and Detoxify:

    Keeping your body hydrated with safe drinking water, kombucha and green juices will provide several benefits. It will flush toxins out of your system, reducing the chance for cellulite and fat build-up. Water, kombucha and green juices will also keep your digestion moving, so you don’t bloat and so that your body continues to eliminate waste and toxins regularly. Keeping your body moving on a cellular level is important, especially when you can’t move your body on a physical level.

    9. Watch Your Food Intake:

    While it’s extremely important to consume enough calories to support your healing and energy levels, you should be sure not to overeat when you’re trying to tone your body and lose weight. One weight loss eating tip (which is safe and appropriate while healing) is to wait until you are hungry to eat your next meal. This is helpful to tone the body because it is your body’s natural method to prevent taking in too many calories than it needs. Your body will tell you when it’s ready for more food by triggering hunger pangs.

    Allowing your stomach to fully digest before eating is also conducive to healing because it ensures that you aren’t putting too much stress on your body to be continuously in digest-mode. You will be giving your body a chance to break down, digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients, and remove waste, before starting the process over again.

    10. Eat Probiotic Foods:

    A thriving healthy bacteria population in your gut will reduce bloating and help keep food moving through your system quickly. This gut flora will also feed your metabolism, burn off calories and lend you energy through their B Vitamin production. Probiotic foods to help you foster a healthy probiotic population in your gut include: kombucha, coconut kefir, raw sauerkraut, raw kimchi, miso paste and natto. Make sure all of of these are labeled as unpasteurized / raw.


    What do you think of this list? Is it helpful? Which steps will you be implementing first?

    Leave us a comment below with your feedback. And let us know if you have any creative tips as well! It’s always helpful to share the knowledge.

    And I hope to see you soon at the Take Back Your Health Conference!


    Keep taking back your health,


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