Activity pacing

Activity pacing

Why is it important?

When getting back into an activity after injury or a flare up we want to go slow and steady! What we often see is a “boom-bust” cycle, where a person completes an activity at a higher level than what their body is currently capable of and then has an extended period of rest to recover.  This can be short term (i.e doing 15km run straight from 5km walks) or long term (e.g. starting gym classes 5 x week when previously only doing 1 x 30min walk a week).  Over time we can experience a gradual worsening of symptoms or decrease in function over time. This is because the bodies threshold continues to decrease as it hasn’t been appropriately challenged.

When starting to increase activity level you want to consider your current, symptom free, functional level.  You can consider this as a single activity as well as across a week. For example, two 5km walks a week on their own is achievable but if you add a gym session it becomes too much.  You can also use same approach for day-to-day activities like cooking and vacuuming.  The activities you choose depend entirely on you and your current capabilities. Pay attention to what you’re doing, how long you’re doing it for, and what it feels like. When you’ve worked out your current limit, reduce the average of the limit (across the week) by 10-20% and that’s your starting goal!

Ideas of Activity Pacing

Have a read of the below examples and see if you can think through one for yourself.

Example 1:

Goal:  Return to Park Run (5km – distance not time goal)
Current level: 3 runs a week; achilles pain begins at 3.2km, 2.7km and 2.5km.  80% of average is 2.25km.

Starting point: run 2.25km 3 x week and gradually build by 10% each week/fortnight.

Example 2:

Goal: Cook a daily meal

Current level: Cooking 3 nights a week, back pain starts after standing for 8 mins, 12 mins, 10 mins. 80% of average standing time is 8 mins.

Starting point: 8 mins of active cooking time then rest for 50% of active time before repeating active time.  Can increase by number of days, or amount of time standing by 10%.

For assistance in creating a specific pacing plan for your activity give us a call at 1300 842 850 or Click here to book an appointment.

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