Baseline

The Explain Pain book talks about how to increase an activity you want to do more of when you have chronic pain. For me it’s being on my feet, whether that’s standing or walking. It says to find a balance between pain and flare and figure out what your baseline for that activity is. (If you try to never have any pain and stop the activity when you feel pain, you’ll only get more sensitive.) Practice your baseline every day and increase by 30 sec each week.

I loved reading about this approach because it’s hard for me to see a way out of my chronic pain and limitations. It also motivates me to prevent further sensitization to pain, and do things even though I have pain.

My baseline for being on my feet is anywhere from 3 to 10 min, depending on the day. I do a lot of walking for under 3 minutes and then stop and sit, like around the house, to my car or into an appointment. (It’ll be a huge victory when I get rid of the stools in my kitchen and the bathroom, but I’ll save that for another post.)

I’ve started to try walking into places where I’m not walking to a seat, like into the grocery store or a mini walk at night up and down my apartment building hallway to get my brain used to the idea.

I read about this about 2 months ago and have been keeping aware of my baseline, but I feel like I let pain or flare days get in the way and haven’t necessarily increased by 30 sec each week. I’ve just been trying to track what my baseline is (which I wasn’t aware of at all before). I have noticed though that if I’m looking at my stop watch, I do try to stay standing or walking and squeeze out another 30 sec.

I’d like to make a more concerted effort to try the method, perhaps starting with 3 min so it feels manageable more often and adding 30 sec from there. It’s hard to know exactly how to apply it because every day is different. But I guess it doesn’t have to be perfect or exact. I just have to try.

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