If you have chronic pain, how do you reduce your pain through exercise? Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? It kind of sounds like a pink elephant flying through flaming hoops…you feel like it is more likely that you will win the lottery than getting pain relief through exercise but it is a reality backed by science. According to the Harvard Medical School, there are targeted exercises that can relieve pain from a number of chronic issues.
From my personal experience, if you will even do some light exercise daily, you will see a long-term benefit if you have a regular regimen. The key is consistency…starting and stopping workouts or skipping a workout is the death knell when you are trying to relieve your pain through exercise.
So what can you do? The first step is to take baby steps. Start by 5 minutes of light activities like stretching and then as your body allows, step up the time and intensity. You don’t have to develop to a point that you are a powerlifter or placing in a bodybuilding competition but I have known people who have started with 5 minutes of activity and have worked up to running marathons.
If you will take it nice and easy, then work up to more mild exercise you cause your joints to lubricate themselves, your connective tissue to strengthen, and cause your muscular system to take some of the load off your skeletal system. That’s why back doctors typically will have their patients work on the strength of their back. If you have a structural problem with your spine, having strong muscles can take much of the stress off the spine and therefore, can alleviate the pain.
When I had my first back injury, that was the first thing my doctor prescribed after giving me a nerve block. The stronger my back became, the less my back hurt. The same has held true with my Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia. When I keep a regular workout routine, including strength training, the better I’m able to handle the daily struggle.
What most people who have chronic pain understand is that you become a much better listener to your body than people who don’t suffer this malady. That is what you must do when you exercise with chronic pain. If you listen carefully, your body will let you know that “feels good” or will yell “STOP, THAT REALLY HURTS.” No pain, no gain does not apply to those who exercise to reduce their overall pain levels. If it doesn’t feel good, or at a minimum, if it doesn’t hurt do it but if it creates new pain, stop it!
Just like the pink flying elephant, it can seem fantastical that you can relieve pain through the process of regular exercise but the most important thing to do is start today. If it is simply stretching using some stretch bands, or using a cheap cycle block or simply walking around the block, the most important thing to do is get started!