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When is it okay NOT to Exercise?

In physical therapy we assign exercises to rehabilitate our patients. However, there are instances when exercising is not appropriate. Here are some of the top reasons:

Heightened or sharp pain during or after an exercise:

  • Sharp pain experienced within 24 hours after an exercise is different from normal mild muscle soreness. Sudden sharp or heightened pain may indicate further tissue trauma.

  • Sometimes you may experience numbness or tingling. This may be the case when performing a nerve stretch. Numbness or tingling that persists past approximately 30 seconds after letting go of a stretch may indicate that the stretch was performed too vigorously or that the body is simply not ready for it.

Acute fracture or post- surgical procedure:

  • Moving the affected body part after a fracture may be too painful as well as contraindicated. Depending upon the severity of the fracture, the area may need to be splinted for a period to allow for proper knitting of bone. The same applies after certain orthopedic surgeries. It is best to follow you doctor’s guidelines.

Illness or Extreme Fatigue:

  • When you are sick, especially with a common cold or flu, your body directs energy toward recovering from illness. It is better to rest during this period rather than wear yourself out and prolong recovery.

  • Exercising when extremely fatigued can lead to injury, as there may be less attention to proper form, setting oneself up for strain. Sometimes it’s best to rest and rejuvenate and get back to exercising when you’re feeling more energized!

Strong feelings of not wanting to exercise:

  • Forcing oneself to do anything is generally not a good practice. Injury as well as mental burnout can result otherwise. Instead, one should make a willing choice to exercise knowing that the benefits are worth the effort.

  • There are circumstances where adherence to an exercise regime is very important. Examples include recovering from a knee replacement or from frozen shoulder where achieving range of motion is required for comfort and daily use. So, be careful of forming the habit of putting off exercises because you simply don’t feel like it.


  • Emergencies, traumatic events, or any extreme change in circumstances disrupt our daily routines. During this time period, it is okay to take a break from exercise and deal with the situation at hand. When things calm down, however, return back to exercising. Remember, though, that during trying times, exercising can be an excellent way to alleviate stress levels.

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