Staying active is key to a healthy lifestyle. You might be reading these words thinking ‘oh that old chestnut again’. Everybody knows it, but if you’re in pain, exercise may be the last thing on your mind and you’re probably also tired of hearing that you should be doing it. We don’t want to sound like a broken record but, as a clinic dedicated to pain management and promoting health and wellness, we do want to give out the right message. With a little luck there may be a few benefits to exercising while in pain that you weren’t aware of, so read on!
Any type of pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks is said to be chronic. What’s more is that it can be almost invisible to outsiders such as heath care professionals. So it can be difficult to trace the problem back to its roots and get long lasting treatment.
So why is exercising so important for chronic pain?
Chronic pain is frustrating, stubborn and tiresome. It can have a real knock-on effect to your mental health. Stress and anxiety will only worsen the aches and pains.
Meditation can help you accept and manage the pain, offering great relief from your symptoms. If you missed our blog on Progressive Muscle Relaxation, make sure to check it out. Mindfulness might not be for you and exercise does yield similar mental benefits. This is linked to the release of powerful neurochemical messengers known as endorphins. These trigger positive feelings that are similar to that of morphine! They diminish the perception of pain and act as natural sedatives.
So once again mother nature provides!
High intensity & Low impact
High intensity exercise is best for the release of these powerful happy hormones. However, to reap these mental benefits with chronic pain, the ideal exercises combine high intensity with low impact. This means avoiding aerobics and any jolting moves on your joints. Swimming and cycling are excellent and as spring has finally sprung, mowing the lawn will do the trick just as well.
Low intensity & Low impact
The main physical reason to stay active with chronic pain isn’t to get into shape but rather to keep the wheels in motion. Your body is made for movement and your joints make this possible. Staying still will only cause joints to seize, worsen your pain, make movement more difficult and exercise seem all the more impossible.
The key to this is low intensity and low impact sport such as yoga or Tai Chi!
Tai chi – meditation in motion or medication in motion?
Tai chi is a non-competitive martial art known for its self-defense techniques and health benefits. This practice is based on three concepts: Health, Meditation and Martial Art. It combines deep breathing and relaxation with flowing movements.
These movements are usually rhythmically circular and never forced, muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai Chi can be easily adapted to anyone, from the fittest to those restricted in wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
Many small studies have reported that Tai Chi can have a significant impact on general chronic pain and especially pain linked to osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. The poses involved in this ancient Chinese practice are named after animal actions such as White Crane Spreads its Wings or High Pat on Horse, which certainly puts the fun in it.
We always maintain that your pain is personal, unique to your body. Some days will be better than others, but it is important to keep moving. Even if you are almost bed-ridden, stuck in an arthritis or fibromyalgia flare-up, try gentle wrist rotations, head tilts, ankle stretches and anything that seems possible.
Chronic pain treatment? Reach out for a helping hand
We are living in an era where being responsible for our own health is not just trendy but almost expected. In the 90s, self-help books made top sales and today the Internet makes people think self-care means you have to do it all by yourself. Sometimes we need guidance and motivation so that we can get to the point where we can maintain a healthy lifestyle. So yes, practising yoga or Tai Chi from home is made easy with the abundant info on the Internet but if you can, join a class! This is way more encouraging and chances are you’ll meet people who, like you, are in pain and looking for an alternative solution that doesn’t involve daily painkillers. Our aim at Spinal Care Clinics in Brentwood is to help treat your pain and provide you with the tools necessary to get you back on the right tracks so that you can maintain a healthy and pain-free lifestyle.