Confused about When to Exercise and When to Rest for Pain Relief? You’re Not Alone

Top view of calm guy napping in his bedroom with enjoyment. Copy spaceThere may be more tools and techniques available to treat pain than ever before, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Traditionally and instinctually, rest has been assigned as the great reliever of pain. Not so much anymore. These days, your doctor is more likely to tell you to increase activity and reduce rest to treat pain.


Of course, the lines can get murky. Sometimes, movement can be the ultimate pain reliever. Other times, it can be dangerous. In some cases, rest and relaxation is the way to help the pain subside.

All of this can get very confusing. Let’s take a look at what might be the best treatment technique for your pain.

In most cases, movement will help. Research suggests exercise can ease pain, improve physical function, and boost quality of life. It may also reduce the risk of future pain.

Exercise may work best for treating chronic pain, like back pain or arthritis, caused by tightness. Inactivity can make these conditions worse. Exercise can also help with injury recovery when conducted under the care of a healthcare professional.

Activity, of course, has its limits. So, if you’re experiencing pain while performing it, stop, slow down, or change the technique.

If you’ve recently suffered an acute injury or it is flaring up, rest is likely your best option. Quite simply, your body needs time to heal. Performing activity prematurely may lead to further injury or other setbacks.


Even if you are experiencing chronic pain, rest may come in handy if it is used properly. It’s okay to spend a couple of hours lying down if needed. Ensure those periods are few and far between. Try to avoid doing it more than once or twice per week and avoid spending a full day lying down.

When you do lay down, there are a few techniques that may aid its effectiveness. They include:

  • Putting pillows under the head and between your knees if lying on your side.
  • Put pillows under your hips when laying on your stomach.

Use lying down as a last resort if the pain is not the result of an injury. If the pain appears, try movement and then use hot or cold treatments. When you’re out of options, lay down for as short a period as needed.

Author Bio

About eight years ago, Mat Lecompte had an epiphany. He’d been ignoring his health and suddenly realized he needed to do something about it. Since then, through hard work, determination and plenty of education, he has transformed his life. He’s changed his body composition by learning the ins and outs of nutrition, exercise, and fitness and wants to share his knowledge with you. Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and approach with practical experience, but he has also worked closely with nutritionists, dieticians, athletes, and fitness professionals. He embraces natural healing methods and believes that diet, exercise and willpower are the foundation of a healthy, happy, and drug-free existence.