Chronic pain is much more common than you think. According to American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM), over 100 million people in the USA suffer from chronic pain. Moreover, around 636 billion dollars is spent each year on pain medicine. This means that people are getting highly dependent on pain medication for relief. This dependency on pain medicines can be reduced only if we find another alternative to cure this issue. According to available scientific research, exercise is so far the next best remedy for chronic pain. It can help you reduce inflammation, improve mobility and ultimately, relieve pain.
In this article, we will mainly highlight the importance of exercise and how it helps with chronic pain. For people who want to try exercises at home, we will also list down some important and effective exercises that can help them heal better. So let’s begin!
Chronic Pain: An Introduction
Ever heard of the phrase “pain makes me feel alive”? Well when you are going through chronic pain, it seems like feeling alive is not the first thing that comes to mind. Most people think about getting to the doctor right away and that is a very wise choice. However, you need to understand what kind of pain it is and how it is affecting your body. When you go to the doctor the first thing that he does is to perform a detailed examination. There is no doubt that with age, pain becomes a consistent part of life. Most of the time though, pain is caused by some injury.
There are two types of pain. One of the most common pain is acute pain, which occurs when you have some kind of injury. But as soon as the injury heals you feel perfectly fine. Since there is a healing time frame, doctors can predict when you will feel better. Sometimes though the pain persists and no matter what you try, it does not go away. This kind of pain is called chronic pain.
Experts say that chronic pain is not linked directly with the injury or pain in muscle. Instead, it is linked with the nervous system. When an injury is accompanied by nerve damage, it usually takes longer to heal and causes sensitivity issues which can persist and as a result, the person feels pain.
Most people think that anything related to nerve damage or issues with the nerves cannot be fixed. That’s not accurate. In the case of chronic pain, physiotherapists, physiatrists and chiropractors can help with resolving it.
How Can Chronic Pain Be Treated Via Exercises?
Multiple researchers explain the importance of exercise in reducing pain. Cardio exercises, yoga, tai chi, stretching exercises, swimming, and other simple exercises that help you move all your body muscles are very important for curing pain.
Swimming is so far the most underrated exercise. Most people think that swimming is an art and it has nothing to do with weight loss, staying fit, or body pain. One of the major issues that most people face while exercising is the pressure that they feel on their joints. This issue can easily be resolved during swimming where your body has to be horizontal and water eases the pain as well as relieves the pressure on the joint. The best part of swimming is that it helps with improving fitness and easing mobility.
Yoga is an excellent exercise that helps you work on your mental health, physical health, and body function. According to this study, yoga can relieve pain and improve the efficiency of those with multiple sclerosis. This scientific review also notes that yoga can relieve low back pain and improve functional disability status from short term to long term when compared with non-exercise methods.
Technically, yoga is an exercise that involves meditation and physical exercises. You will have to work on your breathing while you move your body. Another important part is body movement because you need to make sure that you hold the pose and breathe according to your pose. Before trying yoga, it is better to start with meditation and then ease into yoga otherwise you might end up straining your muscles. Most people start with yoga and then they move toward weight training as they feel improvement in their body. It all comes down to the goal and personal preference but in any case, yoga is an excellent workout for warm-up before exercise.
For beginners who are not sure how to start working on their chronic pain issue, walking is an excellent option. You can easily customize the workout plan, set frequency and time according to your goal. And yes, there is scientific evidence showing that walking indeed helps people with chronic pain
Most people work on other exercises but use walking just to increase their strength and endurance. However, you need to know that walking is not all about intensity. Walking can be much more helpful if you reduce the intensity, decrease the speed and increase the time.
Brisk walking is so far the best option for chronic pain. But make sure that your body has enough healing time otherwise you might end up making your injury worse.
In most cases, people opt for intense exercises because they think this will help them speed up their progress. However, with injury and chronic pain, your main aim should be linked with pain ease and improving strength. If you choose weight training, do not lift heavy weights unless recommended by the expert. Another important thing is to wear comfortable clothes because they will help you stretch easily. In most cases, people wear uncomfortable clothes to the gym which only restrain their movement and in the worst case, it can also cause injury. So far the best possible option is to get good sportswear that is stretchable so you can move around easily.
Bottom Line: You Still Need Expert Help to Treat Chronic Pain
To sum it all up, it all comes down to the diagnosis. Medical experts say that wrong diagnosis leads to bad workout posture and a bad selection of exercises. So the best way to begin is to consult the doctor. Sometimes doctors allow the patient to start a simple workout training with them but as the person understands the technique, they make the patient feel independent so he can perform exercises at home. On the contrary, sometimes you need experts’ assistance throughout, especially if the pain is at a very sensitive place. Sometimes patients try to work on their own but end up causing more damage than any benefit. Although the given exercises are easy and effective yet it is much better to take help from a professional than to try and work out on your own. Most people try to exercise with the injury which as a result, makes the injury worse and causes permanent damage as well.
Ann Edwards is the fully qualified personal trainer from Elite sports. She has been helping people in the field of bodybuilding and fitness from more than a decade. Her career in nutrition and physical therapy has made her a fine addition for our team.