4 Reasons Why Exercise Is Vital to Easing Chronic Pain
When you are hurting, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do. Most people assume that moving their bodies will intensify the pain. So, the desire is to rest and wait for the symptoms to subside before participating in any physical activities.
But the truth is that a lack of movement could be contributing to your chronic pain. If you aren’t making exercise a priority, then it means that your muscles will weaken and your body becomes out of shape. The result: your body is functioning at a sub-par level, and the chronic health conditions can start to cascade.
Even though physical activity might sound difficult, it is an integral part of your recovery. If you want to overcome chronic pain, you need to be proactive about a holistic approach, using multiple modalities and tools to restore your health.
Learn about the many benefits of exercise for reducing chronic pain, and you’ll soon be motivated to make movement part of your routine. Here are a few reasons why exercise is an essential part of your healing experience:
Exercise Supports Joint Movement
Make sure your joints are moving well so you can walk, run, and jump. Many patients with chronic pain experience different types of arthritis that affect the joints.
If you aren’t moving very much, you will lose flexibility, and the joints can start to lock up. These problems get worse with time. Instead, a better solution is to use gentle exercises that maintain movement in your joints and connective tissues.
Exercise Strengthens Your Muscles
When you are strengthening the muscles, they can better support the bones and body. Muscles and bones make up the overall structure of your form and movement. If the muscles start to deteriorate, it can have a domino effect on many aspects of your wellness.
Keep your muscles in good condition, and you will notice that you have more energy and strength. At the same time, these muscles are more effective in holding the spine and joints in the right position, which helps ease the pain you are experiencing.
Exercise Helps with Weight Loss
Obesity can be a contributing factor that intensifies chronic pain. When you are carrying extra weight on the body, then it adds more pressure on the joints. This issue starts to compound over time because the joint pain can be de-motivating to follow a regular workout routine.
When you pair regular movement with a healthy diet, it can be a healthy way to lose the extra pounds. These benefits add up over time. For example, when the weight starts to melt away, then you feel better and have more energy to exercise and enjoy your life – making it easier to continue with your weight loss goals.
Exercise Promotes Good Mental Health
While additional research is needed, there is an undeniable connection between mental health and physical health. Too often, patients with chronic pain also have other mental health concerns, such as anxiety and depression. It can be a “chicken or the egg” scenario. If the depression makes it difficult to live your life, it often results in reduced activity and leads to physical weakness.
Staying active boosts your mindset, improves self-esteem, and helps you feel empowered because you are doing something with your life. Do you want to increase the mental health benefits even more? Then find friends or neighbors to join you in these fitness efforts.
Best Exercises for Chronic Pain
The key to a successful exercise program is to make sure you consult with a doctor to address your chronic pain. It’s vital that you start slow, then build your intensity and frequency over time. Your doctor or a physical therapist can recommend exercise activities ideal for your current health condition and chronic pain concerns.
For patients experiencing a lot of joint pain, it can be helpful to start with low-impact exercises. For example, if you lace up your shoes and go for a run, then the pounding of the pavement can cause jarring in your joints. But other forms of exercise can help you ease into the routine. In addition, these activities help you build strength so you can move into more intense workouts in the future.
Here are a few exercise options you can talk to your doctor about:
- Water aerobics
- Swimming laps
- Tai Chi
- Strength training
Remember: always listen to your body cues when you are working out. For example, if the pain intensifies, then you shouldn’t push through the pain. Instead, consult with a pain specialist to find the optimal level of movement that will support your health.
Exercise Tips for Managing Chronic Pain
If you have chronic pain and you are just getting started with a new exercise routine, then here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Consistency: You might not feel great after your first exercise session. But the benefits of exercise add up over time. Stay consistent with your routine, and you will start to notice the benefits within a few weeks.
- Prepare: Always take time to warm up and cool down. Don’t start into an exercise activity without first preparing the muscles with stretching and gentle movement.
- Pain: Pay attention to your pain levels during and after exercise. It can be helpful to use a 0 – 10 scale so you can see how your body is responding. If your pain goes up by more than 2 points, then modify your exercise routine.
- Intensity: Keep in mind that you can also cause harm by over-exercising. Always follow the doctor’s recommendations for the frequency and intensity of your workouts.
Exercise is just one piece of the puzzle to help with your chronic pain management. If you would like personalized recommendations, then talk to our team of pain management doctors. We provide a full-service approach for patients who want to start thriving in their life once again. Contact us at Texas Partners Healthcare Group to schedule a consultation.