Can Exercise Improve Chronic Pain?

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How To Keep Moving While Recovering

When you’re in pain every day, exercise might not be the first thing on your list of to-dos. If it’s hard to get out of bed or make it to the shower without cramps, aches, or sudden pain, you may feel like the best option is to rest as much as possible. Unfortunately, while this may be the case in some circumstances, a lack of exercise may also be making your chronic pain worse.  

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but most patients see improvement in symptoms when exercise is a part of daily life. Talk to your doctor about safe exercise for your physical well-being and the best activities to improve your symptoms. 

Will exercise help my chronic pain?

In most cases, we recommend patients exercise per their physical condition. For example, someone with a slipped disc should not be participating in aerobic exercise, but they may be able to stretch or take short walks to improve their mental health. 

Below are just a few of the benefits of exercise that can help motivate you to get started: 

Exercise can help strengthen joints and muscles.

Muscle strain or weakness can cause chronic pain, such as carpal tunnel and arthritis. In addition, when the muscles are overworked or used in only one way, they can become weakened and tired. By incorporating exercise that strengthens those muscles, you can help reduce your pain. 

Exercise can help maintain a healthy weight.

Weight gain happens for many reasons, but regardless of the cause, excess weight puts more stress on your joints and skeletal system. If you’re dealing with joint or spinal pain, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the strain on your body and help lessen the pain. Talk to your doctor about safe weight loss exercise and other options if medical issues are causing weight gain. 

Exercise improves mental function.

When battling chronic pain, it is common to feel depressed, anxious, or generally less motivated. Unfortunately, when you stop exercising, these secondary symptoms only get worse. By exercising to the best of your ability, you can improve your mood and lessen the mental burdens that come with chronic pain.

What types of exercise are best for chronic pain?

Chronic pain may limit your mobility, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on exercise entirely. Low impact exercises can build muscle strength and cardiovascular strength without increasing pressure on the bones, muscles, and joints. Below are just a few examples of low-impact exercises you can comfortably do at home, based on your physical needs. 

  • Yoga 
  • Low impact cardio such as walking 
  • Pilates
  • Swimming
  • Biking 

Can I exercise while recovering?

If you are recovering after a chronic pain procedure such as surgery, you need to speak to your doctor about appropriate exercise for your recovery time. Surgery puts a lot of strain on the body, so it’s best to take it easy and only exercise as you and your doctor are comfortable. If you are recovering well, start slow with short walks around the neighborhood or gentle yoga sessions until you feel back to normal. And, if pain worsens or you experience other symptoms after surgery, talk to your doctor to ensure your activity level is not too high for your recovery. 

PPOA takes a comprehensive approach to pain relief, including exercise, physical therapy, and other solutions. Your wellness as a whole is considered, and we provide customized solutions for your pain problems. To learn more about PPOA’s holistic approach to pain management, contact your local office today!