Staying Active With Chronic Pain

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A workout might seem like the last thing you want to do when in pain, but it could actually be what your body needs. In fact, studies show that the right kind of exercise can relieve pain and even reverse chronic pain.

Of course, certain exercises could aggravate your condition, so you do need to be careful as to which exercises you take up. Here are just a few ways to stay active with chronic pain.

Avoid running and jumping activities

Running, jumping and other high-impact exercises should generally be avoided if you suffer from chronic pain. These exercises can put massive stress on muscles and joints – chronic pain caused by conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia could be made much worse as a result.

Many sports ranging from martial arts to tennis involve running or jumping. You should continue these sports at your own risk. Meanwhile, activities such as weightlifting should also be carried out with caution – these can be classed as high impact exercises if you’re pushing large weights and could aggravate an injury.

Go swimming

Swimming is the perfect low-impact exercise for fighting chronic pain. Immersing yourself in water can help to stimulate nerve endings whilst the buoyancy can help to relax muscles – all in all this can ease some forms of pain by up to 50%.

Exercise could involve swimming lengths of the pool or taking part in a water aerobics class. By going down to your local swimming pool, you can see what classes may be on.

Activities like diving may be best avoided with certain types of pain. Scuba diving in particular should be avoided if you suffer from certain respiratory or sinus pain issues. 

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Take up yoga

Yoga is another great form of physical activity for managing chronic pain. It combines exercise and meditation, helping to relieve cortisol levels (the stress hormone – which makes pain worse) and release endorphin (the feelgood hormone – which helps get rid of pain). The activities in yoga are largely low-impact and involve stretches and bodyweight exercises.

You can learn yoga yourself or you can join a class in your area. Other sports that provide a similar workout include Pilates and Tai chi.

Go on long walks

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, running may be out of the question – but walking could still be an option. Walking is largely low-impact, so you’re unlikely to aggravate joints and muscles unless you’re walking over particularly rough terrain. It will get your heart rate up and will release endorphins, helping to keep your whole body fit and helping to fight pain.

You may only have to walk to your local shop to get your fix of exercise. By cutting out short car trips and walking more, you may be able to get the physical activity you need. Alternatively, you could try taking up hiking and going for longer and more scenic walks. Buying a good quality pair of hiking boots could help to keep your feet cushioned and supported on these walks, which could be important if you suffer from joint pain. Buying knee braces may also help.

Stay active at home

You don’t even need to leave your home to do low-impact exercise. You may be able to simply do your own workout made up of core exercises, squats and arm exercises at home. You could even invest in a treadmill to walk on and get some cardio exercise in. For those that struggle with the motivation to exercise, home workout could be much better suited – you can watch TV or even do household chores as you’re cooking, seamlessly fitting exercise into your everyday life.

For those with serious chronic pain that may also affect mobility, consider ways of encouraging activity in your home such as disability aids. Placing grab bars around the home could encourage you to get up and walk around more rather than spending all day sedentary. There are of course ways to exercise whilst sat down if standing isn’t an option.

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Talk to a physiotherapist

Physiotherapists are worth paying money for if you suffer from chronic pain and are unable to find a suitable exercise. Not only will these professionals help to recommend exercises, but they could also help to offer pain relieving treatments like massages, manual manipulation and heat/cold memory.

Some physiotherapists may specialise in a certain area such as back pain or foot issues, whilst others may cater to a variety of chronic pain conditions. It’s worth doing your research to find the best physiotherapist in your area.

Know your limits

It’s important to pay attention to what your body is telling you when exercise. If certain exercises are making pain much worse, you may want to write these forms of exercise off. You don’t want to make a chronic condition worse by overexerting yourself.

Always take new activities slowly so that you know what you can achieve. By building up muscle and losing fat, you may be able to eventually take on new activities that may have previous been too painful – add muscle could mean added support, whilst less fat could mean pressing down on your joints.

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