Can Stretching Improve Chronic Pain?

Stretching Regularly Can Help You Find Pain Relief

Chronic pain affects millions of people every single year. While chronic back pain is the leading cause of disability in the U.S., a whole host of conditions can cause pain. From neck pain to leg pain, chronic pain can come in many forms. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to manage this pain.

Exercise is an excellent way to manage your chronic pain. It improves muscle tone, strength, flexibility, and more, helping you find pain relief. By staying active, you can reduce inflammation, increase mobility, and decrease your pain levels. Stretching is one form of exercise that presents plenty of benefits.

While people don’t usually think of stretching as an exercise, it can be intense if done correctly. After all, yoga is an exercise that focuses on poses that stretch your body. But can stretching improve your chronic pain and give you pain relief?

At Texas Partners Healthcare Group, our team of pain management doctors strives to create a personalized treatment plan for our patient’s unique pain, working alongside patients to create a custom pain management plan. If you or someone you love lives in chronic pain, give our Frisco pain management clinic a call today to learn how we can help.

Common Chronic Pain Conditions

Chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than three months. No two cases of pain are the same. Each person’s body is different from the next, reacting to stimuli differently. If two people suffer from back pain, the same treatment option might not work for both of them.

Regardless, here are some of the common pain conditions stretching has been known to help:

Benefits of Stretching 

While you might not think about it at first, stretching is an excellent way to help ease your symptoms of chronic pain. Many patients have found pain relief from stretching. It is important to remember that it will not always rid you of your pain, but it can help you manage and reduce the level of pain you feel.

Some of the benefits of stretching for chronic pain include:

Reduces Muscle Tension:

Stress and tension in the body can make your chronic pain worse. Neck, shoulder, and back pain, as well as headaches, are often the result of tense or tight muscles. Stretching helps you relieve that stress in your muscles. It also puts your mind at ease, which allows your body to heal more efficiently.

Improves Blood Flow:

A recent study found that stretching improves your blood flow and circulation of blood to the muscles and joints. This improved circulation ensures that your entire body receives the nutrients they need and that toxins are flushed out. Blood can also reach knotted tissues better to help ease pain.

Improves Joint Function:

When you suffer from chronic pain, you often don’t give your joints the exercise they need to function. Stretching loosens up stiff muscles and tissues in the joints, improving joint function and range of motion. Improved joint function also allows for better balance and coordination.

Increases Flexibility:  

Regularly stretching lengthens your muscles, increases your range of motion, and relieves stiffness, leading to increased flexibility. Flexibility helps you perform everyday tasks easier. It also delays reduced mobility as you age. Flexibility allows you to move your body as you should, improving your balance and dexterity.

Strengthens Muscles:  

Stretching lengthens and tears your muscles. When they heal, they become stronger. The more you stretch, the stronger your muscles become, which gives your body (particularly your back) the support it needs. One study found that combing strength training and stretching can reduce musculoskeletal pain and improve posture.

Reduces the Risk of Injury: 

Stretching helps relieve muscle tension, strengthens muscles, and improves blood circulation, which enhances your ability to move. A 2011 study found that a combination of stretching, plyometrics, and exercise can reduce gradual-onset injuries by 65%.

Relieves Pain: 

Tight muscles reduce your range of motion, which increases your likelihood of straining more muscles and causing injury. When you stretch, your muscles can heal due to the increase in blood and oxygen flow to the muscles, providing them with the nutrients they need and washing away toxins.

Additionally, stretching strengthens muscles, which prevents you from suffering injuries in the future.

Easy Stretches to Do at Home

Fortunately, there are many different stretches you can utilize to help manage your pain. The beauty of stretching is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home. However, it does help to have an expert show you the proper form.

Here are a few stretches you can do to ease your pain:

Stretches for Neck Pain: 

  • Forward/Backward Tilt:
    • Start with your head over your shoulders with your back straight.
    • Then, slowly lower your chin into your chest, tucking it. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
    • Relax, slowly returning to the starting position.
    • Then, slowly tilt your chin towards the sky, bringing the base of your skull to your back. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
    • Relax, slowly returning to the starting position.
  • Chin Tucks:
    • Start with your head over your shoulders with your back straight.
    • Put our finger on your chin.
    • Without removing your finger, move your chin and head backward, like your finger is pushing your chin into your neck. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
    • Relax, slowly returning to the starting position, with your finger still in place.

Stretches for Back Pain: 

  • Trunk Rotation:
    • Start by lying on your back.
    • Next, bring your knees towards your chest until your body is in the position of sitting in a chair.
    • Extend your arms out to the sides with your palms facing down.
    • Make sure your upper back is flat on the ground.
    • Slowly rotate your legs towards the floor on one side (use your hand to push it closer to the floor if need be).
    • Hold for 10-20 seconds, then switch sides.
  • Pelvic Tilt:
    • Start by lying on your back.
    • Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and your arms at your side.
    • Keep your back relaxed, leaving the natural curve in your lower back.
    • Activate your core muscles and flatten your lower back against the floor.
    • Tilt your pelvis upward without leaving the floor. You should feel your core and buttocks tighten.
    • Hold for 5-10 seconds. 

Stretches for Leg Pain:

  • Quadriceps Stretch:
    • Hold onto a wall, chair, or another surface for balance.
    • Stand on one leg, bringing the opposite leg off the floor.
    • Gently bend the standing knee.
    • Grab the lifting foot and hold it to your buttocks. Hold for 30 seconds.
    • Repeat on opposite leg.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch:
    • Sit on the floor, keeping your back straight.
    • Put the bottoms of your feet together.
    • Then pull your heels towards you, slowly pushing your knees toward the floor.
    • Hold for 30 seconds.

Contact a Frisco Pain Management Clinic 

Nobody deserves to live in chronic pain. It reduces your quality of life and can drastically impact your mental health. Fortunately, there are plenty of pain management treatment options that can help you find pain relief. Stretching is just one of many that you can do on your own.

However, if your pain is severe and does not improve with stretching, contact the pain management doctors at Texas Partners Healthcare Group and let us help you live life well again.