It is true that physical therapy and medical treatments are important components of chronic pain symptom management. However, as a daily habit, increased amount of physical activity can improve the quality of your life and aid in pain management.
Physical activity is useful in releasing natural endorphins or the feel-good chemicals in the brain, which are known to improve mood as well as reduce pain sensations at the same time. With the help of regular exercises, you can improve the quality of your sleep and also reduce the requirement for analgesics or pain medications. If you are suffering from chronic pain, these are 5 everyday exercises that you can perform – in order to manage your aching sensations.
With the help of stretching, you can improve your flexibility, have a better range of motion and reduce stiffness in your body. Daily stretching is essential for alleviating symptoms of painful conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
An ideal stretching routine varies from one individual to another and is based on the kind of joints affected as well as the symptoms arising. However, stretching exercises often involve gentle and slow movement of the joints of the elbows hands and knees.
A standard stretching routine might involve:
- Warming up, by pumping the arms while standing or sitting for 3 to 5 minutes. You may also walk in place for the same amount of time.
- Try to hold each stretch for around 20 to 30 seconds prior to releasing it.
- Try to repeat every stretch for two or three times.
While stretching, the use of a yoga strap can help you to maintain proper form. Even in case you do not have it in your exercise kit, you might use a dog leash or some other alternative.
Some people experiencing painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis might find it useful to work with a physical therapist, having proper knowledge of the condition, so as to learn the right way of carrying out stretches that can satisfy personal pain management requirements.
2. Flowing movements
Flowing movements, meditation, gentle poses and deep breathing are combined in exercises like Yoga and Tai Chi. These can be useful in increasing the range of motion, balance and flexibility, as well as reducing stress in the body.
According to a study conducted in the year 2013, it was found out that the practice of Tai chi could be useful in reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety while improving self esteem and self motivation. A group of women who participated in the study, and practiced Tai chi two times every week for a period of 12 weeks, experienced improvement in energy levels and mood, as well as managed to reduce the amount of debilitating pain in the body.
Scientists associated to the Johns Hopkins University also found out similar benefits with Yoga, the ancient Indian system of exercising that combines relaxation and breathing postures. Through research, it was revealed that younger people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who practiced yoga, experienced vast improvements in mood and pain symptoms.
Arthritic patients had fewer swollen and tender joints than they did prior to the practice of yoga. According to director of medical staff operations Dr. Mario Siervo at Leon Medical Centers, stretching or yogic stretching can be useful for patients in improving range of motion and flexibility.
3. Strength training
When the muscles around affected joints are strengthened, there can be better level of strength as well as effective reduction of painful symptoms associated to arthritis and other chronic painful conditions.
Painful conditions often result in weakening of muscles – which can make joint pain worse. With the help of strength training, muscle strength can be increased and pain can be decreased. When muscles are stronger, they offer better support to the joints and can make everyday activities much more convenient.
It is a good idea to try lifting weights at the gym or even at home every week for two or three times. Resistance bands can also be used, in case your wrists and fingers are in good health. With the help of resistance bands, you can challenge your body and be able to build muscle over a period of time.
It is a good idea to work with a physical therapist who is an expert at offering guidance and advice on appropriate exercises that people with painful conditions can perform easily. In case you are anxious about using resistance bands or lifting weights on your own, talk to your physician and consider working with a good personal trainer in your area.
4. Water exercises
According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis exhibit noticeable improvements after taking part in hydrotherapy or working out in warm water, as compared to other activities. Research shows that those taking part in hydrotherapy experience less tenderness and pain in the joints. Hydrotherapy is also useful for improving overall well being and mood.
Water aerobics, swimming and other water based exercises also reduce pain, by improving the use of affected joints in the body. Body weight is supported by water and gravity is minimized, which ensures that there is no heavy impact on the joints while carrying out exercises in warm water.
Aerobic conditioning, strength, range of motion, flexibility etc can be increased with gentle water exercises – like water aerobics and swimming. These can also help reduce stiffness of, and stress on, the joints.
This is a low impact exercise that is not strenuous, but can be useful in reducing stiffness and improving range of motion of the joints in the body.
It is very important to wear proper shoes as well as stay hydrated. Initially, you should walk slowly and when possible, increase the pace of walking, to raise your heart rate and boost your mood as well as manage to reduce joint stiffness and pain.
When it comes to managing pain, inflammation and stiffness due to chronic conditions – such as arthritis, exercises can be quite useful. There are various benefits of performing the above exercises – one or more – every day. It can be easier for you to manage the symptoms of your condition and reduce flare-ups of pain with daily workouts.