Exercises for Chronic Pain and Fitness
For people with chronic pain, fitness and exercise may seem out of the question. However, did you know that certain exercises can actually improve chronic pain? In fact, many doctors recommend exercise as a non-pharmaceutical option for treating chronic pain symptoms. Inactivity is linked to muscle weakening, and if you’re already dealing with chronic pain, the last thing you want is for your body to get weaker.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 2016, approximately 20% of U.S. adults had chronic pain. Chronic pain is ongoing, and usually lasts longer than six months. One common characteristic is that the pain lasts for quite a while after the original injury or illness has passed. Sometimes, it can occur without a previous injury. Chronic pain is often related to headaches, arthritis, nerve damage, back injuries, or fibromyalgia.
When it comes to exercising with chronic pain, it is important to only do what you can do. Pushing yourself to unrealistic standards will do nothing but stress your body out. It’s probably a good idea not to pay too much attention to most fitness ads when exercising with chronic pain, because they generally aren’t made with your needs in mind. Work on mastering the basics – breathing and stretching. Lastly, and most importantly, don’t start an exercise routine until you’ve discussed it with your doctor, as some exercises may be better (or worse) depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing.
Cardio exercises, such as walking, swimming, or water aerobics, are great for chronic pain because they don’t put a lot of strain on the body as compared to some other types of exercise. This is especially true of swimming and water aerobics. Walking increases energy and reduces stiffness and pain. Swimming is a low-impact form of cardio exercise that incorporates the whole body, and water aerobics can help raise your heart rate, while at the same time helping you work body groups that would be painful to work on out of the water.
Stretching is an underrated form of exercise that people with chronic pain can benefit from. For people with lower back pain, stretching is essential in order to relieve tightness in that area. People who stretch regularly have a more complete range of motion. Further, increasing your flexibility can help prevent injuries in the future.
According to Bustle, Hatha Yoga is an excellent way to incorporate stretching, strength, and breathing exercises all at once. There’s also a meditation factor in yoga, which can help relieve some of the psychological effects of chronic pain. Yoga is especially helpful for treating back pain, which is the most common form of chronic pain. Many people have found that meditation helps them mentally separate from the painful body part, thus relieving them of pain.
Chronic pain shouldn’t stop you from getting the exercise your body needs. Taking the time to stretch and work your body out can really do wonders in relieving pain. Remember to consult with a doctor before adopting a new regimen, and most importantly, pay attention to the cues your body gives you.
Do you struggle with chronic pain? Are you looking for an alternative to opioid medication to treat your pain? Make an appointment with Healthpointe today. We have dedicated years to emphasizing conservative treatment for chronic pain, and through our Functional Restoration Program, we have further dedicated our time to helping our patients get off and stay off opioid medication.