Exercise is so often an essential part of physical therapy, but if you have chronic pain or other health issues that make it difficult to exercise regularly, there are still plenty of ways that you can be active. There are also many benefits for those who continue with their workouts even when they’re living with chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a common issue that many people have to deal with. In this article, we list 7 exercises that can be done to help reduce chronic pain. Read more in detail here: 7 exercises for reducing chronic pain.
9 November 2021
Wei Liu has been practicing and teaching tai chi for 25 years, particularly to those with chronic knee pain, believing that the movements strengthen legs and soothe the mind.
Then he started experimenting with tai chi, which shocked him. He employed motion capture sensors to study people’s motions during a normal tai chi session as a professor of physical therapy at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Individuals shifting their weight and crouching, he discovered, are activities that may actually stress knees and increase pain rather than relieve it for certain people.
Dr. Liu still informs students that tai chi is effective for chronic knee pain, but only if they do all of the motions and forms in a normal session. Laying the Lute (form 5) and Creeps Low Like Snake (form 16), which produced the most knee strain in his research, are definitely best avoided by those with creaky knees. Part the Horse’s Mane on Both Sides (form 2) and any other form that doesn’t intensify suffering might be continued.
Dr. Liu’s research, as well as a plethora of other knowledge and experience, show that exercise is beneficial and therapeutic for practically everyone suffering from chronic pain. However, choosing the ideal activities to help you cope with your specific pain may need combining exercise alternatives, asking the correct questions about why you ache afterwards, and finding the right trainer or physical therapist.
Exercising may make you feel better if you’re in pain.
According to a 2017 review of research relating to exercise and chronic pain, most physicians and therapists used to counsel persons with chronic pain to rest and avoid activities.
Inactivity, on the other hand, “tends to enhance pain sensitivity pathways,” according to Daniel Belavy, a professor of physiotherapy at the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany, who investigates how movement affects chronic pain, particularly back pain.
Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown in tests to lessen pain emotions immediately thereafter and to enhance people’s pain thresholds. Its advantages often outweigh those of other conventional therapy alternatives like massage and stress management.
According to Jonas Bloch Thorlund, a professor of musculoskeletal health at the University of Southern Denmark who researches exercise and pain, “international clinical guidelines for most chronic musculoskeletal pain diseases propose exercise therapy and physical activity as essential therapies.”
The difficulty is that, although most people benefit from some kind of exercise, finding the right program to cure your specific pain might take a lot of trial and error and perseverance. Even well-known pain-relieving hobbies may not work for everyone.
Find the best regimen for you.
Take, for example, yoga. Yoga improves physical function, quality of life, and pain for many patients with “knee osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, neck pain, migraines, and low back pain,” according to a 2020 review of data on it and kindred disciplines. However, according to the study, alleviation is generally little, and some people report experiencing increased pain as a result of their yoga practice.
Other trials of exercise treatment for chronic pain show the similar pattern. “Some individuals react well” to yoga, tai chi, swimming, strength training, or walking, while others don’t, according to Dr. Melissa Phuphanich, a physical medicine resident at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of the study’s authors.
The good news is that this irregularity creates possibilities. “Researchers cannot actually identify a substantial difference between various forms of exercise” for pain treatment in knee osteoarthritis, which is one of Dr. Thorlund’s study topics. So, maybe begin with a brief stroll in a gorgeous location, such as a park, and observe how your body responds (after clearing it with your doctor, of course).
Are you at the gym? Is it the water? What about the garden? Yes.
Once you’ve received permission from a doctor to exercise, honestly assess your discomfort, life, schedule, dislikes, and budget, as each determines your optimal exercise regimen.
Kirsten Ambrose, associate director of the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance at the University of North Carolina’s Thurston Arthritis Research Center, stated that some activities may be more accommodating to those with specific disabilities. “For some patients with joint discomfort, non-weight-bearing sports like water-based or pool activities or biking may be more acceptable.” However, enrolling and getting to a pool, or buying a bike and learning to navigate roads and trails, might be scary or prohibitively costly.
Start small in such scenario. “Traditional exercise, such as walking on a treadmill for a certain amount of minutes or kilometers,” Ms. Ambrose said. “You may list gardening and dog walking as activities. The objective is to spend more time moving rather than sitting.”
The two-hour rule should be followed.
Anyone starting a new workout regimen, on the other hand, should be aware that it is common for the effort to ache at first. Soreness a day or two after a new workout is acceptable and even good, according to Dr. Belavy, since it indicates the muscles are responding as they should to the activity.
However, distinguishing this from discomfort that suggests fresh injury may be challenging. So, Ms. Ambrose said, stick to the two-hour limit. “If your discomfort is greater two hours after you stop exercising than it was before you began, you’ve overdone it and should back off the next time.”
If you’re concerned that your exercise regimen is exacerbating your discomfort, see a physical therapist or a clinical exercise physiologist. “Sometimes, there are things you can’t see for yourself,” Dr. Belavy noted, such as being apprehensive about a specific action and doing it in such a timid or abbreviated manner that it becomes useless or even damaging to your joints or body.
As a consequence, he explained, “you may need to be progressively exposed to certain sorts of motions, even if they seem terrifying.” People with knee discomfort who are afraid of mounting stairs, for example, may begin by walking in place, elevating their knees as though climbing the steps, until they are comfortable with the activity. “Professional advice may be beneficial.”
Exercise is only a placebo effect. That’s OK.
Finally, keep in mind that part of the pain alleviation you get from exercise comes from your thinking. “For many chronic pain patients, regardless of medication, a major portion of the effect is contextual,” said Dr. Thorlund, who researched the effects of informing them that exercise would diminish or enhance their pain symptoms later, which it did.
Contextual factors, he continued, are psychological or emotional aspects of exercise, such as whether you like your physical therapist, like the color and fit of your workout clothes, remember elementary-school physical education classes with nostalgia or dread, and yes, the annoying enthusiasm of your spin-class instructor.
Exercise is only slightly better than placebos, such as tablets or phony electrical pulses that people believed were painkillers, according to a wide-ranging assessment Dr. Belavy and colleagues published this year. However, in all instances, participants reported some alleviation, suggesting that placebos may aid with pain reduction.
Dr. Belavy said, “Exercise obviously has therapeutic impacts on chronic pain.” It’s only that some of those impacts are contingent on how effective exercise is expected to be.
So, if you’re working out and your discomfort isn’t going away, consider modifying something — or everything — about your exercises until you’re sure in their effectiveness. Speed date with spin class teachers to identify the one whose energy is most in harmony with yours, get some new shoes, ask your physical therapist to change the music in his drab waiting area, or try tai chi for the first time.
Dr. Belavy stated, “Find the workout that works for you and keep doing it.”
Chronic pain can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult to exercise. Here are some ways you can still stay active and healthy with chronic fatigue. Reference: how to exercise with chronic fatigue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you workout with chronic pain?
A: I am sorry to say that you cannot exercise with chronic pain. You should consult a doctor for advice on how you can exercise if your chronic pain is not too bad and it does not interfere significantly with day-to-day activities, like walking or working out.
What exercises are good for chronic pain?
A: The simplest and easiest exercises for chronic pain are walking, running, cycling, swimming.
How do you work with chronic pain?
A: I am designed to help people navigate their pain and cope with it.
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