Exercising the pain away might seem counterintuitive, but studies have shown that keeping fit is actually an effective treatment for chronic pain. Although it might be challenging at first, regular activity can keep your muscles strong and flexible. During and after a good workout, stress levels decrease and your body releases endorphins which slow down pain signals from getting to your brain. Naturally, not every exercise is made equal. Some may be too difficult for you to do, so it’s best to figure out which ones are appropriate for your level of fitness.
A reputable chronic pain treatment program can tailor a fitness regimen that is perfect for you, but you can also take your pick from the following exercise to try out yourself.
Get a move on with a simple and light physical activity like walking. Just a few minutes of walking can already provide lots of oxygen to your muscles, reduce stiffness in joints, and boost your mood and energy levels. Not only is this activity easy to do, but it’s also accessible since you won’t need any equipment to do it. You can walk around your neighborhood, a nearby park, or on a treadmill at the gym. This exercise targets and strengthens your legs, back, and core muscles.
Hatha yoga is a popular form of yoga that helps align your muscles and bones. This is a basic form of yoga that makes use of meditation, gentle and low-impact poses, and breathing exercises. It’s a great way to increase your flexibility, while also putting your mind at ease. Besides the physical pain, a large part of the burden of chronic pain is the stress it puts on you mentally and emotionally. Yoga can help your body relax and alleviate all the anxious and stressful emotions you feel.
If yoga is too difficult for you to do, you can start small with a gentle stretching routine. All you need to do is extend your arms or legs into a simple pose, breathe deeply, and hold it for a few seconds until you feel your muscles loosen. You can customize and adapt your stretches to suit your level of mobility and fitness.
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise that can improve both your cardiovascular health as well as your joint and muscle mobility. Hydro-based activities such as water aerobics can help you relax your muscles, reduce pressure from joints, boost flexibility, as well as enhance neuroplasticity.
You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to lift weights. Strength training can help alleviate chronic pain by building up strength around affected joints which then reduces stress and tension in these areas. Don’t get scared off by heavy barbells, you can always start small with 3kg to 5kg kettlebells and dumbbells then work your way up. There are even exercises you can do which make use of your own bodyweight.
A quick lap around your neighborhood on a bike is enough to give your joints and muscles a light warm-up. Just be sure not to overexert yourself. Taking a few quick laps around your block on your bike is just as effective as one long biking session.
Before you start working out, it’s recommended that you consult a physician who can properly assess you and advise you on how to optimize your exercises and avoid injury. Take it easy and do what feels best for you.