For most people suffering with chronic pain, daily medication is the main form of treatment — but this might not be your only option. Did you know that movement and exercise can be helpful, too? Discover the importance of mobility when it comes to pain relief and what you can do to get moving…
Movement can also act as your pain treatment
Gentle and regular movement can help reduce pain experienced in the body and can enhance function for musculoskeletal pain sufferers, too. Improving function in this way has been found to reduce disability, lower feelings of depression and improve someone’s physical condition and quality of life. When it comes to a person’s wellbeing, exercise can help regulate sleep patterns and reduce stress levels. It’s clear to see that movement is not only about losing weight or keeping fit.
What type of movement works best?
Regardless of the type of pain you’re dealing with, you don’t want to make it worse. Check out these exercises for improving pain and getting back to normal quicker.
Pilates: beneficial for core strength
Pilates focuses on breathing properly and improving core strength. This exercise is often performed as a flow of movement rather than static exercises, which some people prefer.
Pilates is generally very gentle and low-impact, a popular exercise for many people of all ages. The specialised apparatus used in the exercise can help treat chronic back pain and build muscle. Alternatively, the apparatus can be used to support someone with back pain to allow them to do certain movements. The performed exercises focus on improving your flexibility, strength and body awareness by working with your abdominal core muscles.
Adopt a regular Pilates practice and your joints, balance and posture should all improve — plus, you’ll see an improvement in toning and muscle strength, too. What’s more, it works with your body to relieve stress and tension.
You could even incorporate it into your working day? You can find examples of desk exercises online — they’re all about controlled breathing and strengthening different muscle groups.
Try yoga if you suffer from back pain
There are a many health reports out there that confirm that yoga is a great help when it comes to back pain. A study discovered significant differences between the brains of those who experienced chronic pain and the brains of those who regularly practised yoga. Researchers found that the sufferers of chronic pain had less of the kind of brain tissue in the regions that help us tolerate pain. On the other hand, those who did yoga had more of this brain tissue.
Day-to-day aches and pains can be eased with a daily yoga practice. This is through practising certain postures that lengthen the spine, improve alignment, and stretch and strengthen the muscles.
It’s not hard to find products and medication which are extremely effective for easing chronic back pain, but simple stretching can work to release tension and eradicate pain. Try a simple, gentle form of yoga, as opposed to more strenuous styles — you don’t want to make the situation worse by over-stretching. Always ask what sort of class it is before you sign up.
Are you wondering which poses are best for easing pain? The ‘extended child’s pose’, for example, lengthens the sides of the body while providing traction on the spine. And, the ‘cobra’ is all about stretching and strengthening the spine.
Yoga offers other benefits too, such as lowered heart rate and blood pressure and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Hydrotherapy can help manage pain
You can also turn to hydrotherapy as a highly effective treatment method. This involves the use of water to help with exercises and strength building.
Keep your practice gentle with simple routines in shallow water or take it up a notch with high-tech equipment — like underwater treadmills. The presence of the water counteracts gravity and helps support the person’s weight, making them feel lighter and able to move more freely. When it comes to those who suffer from back pain, water can reduce the axial load (weight on the spine) and allow them to do exercises that they may not be able to do on land. The viscosity in water also creates a resistance which allows people to do muscle strengthening exercises without a risk of further injury through loss of balance.
Hydrotherapy can help with a variety of conditions, such as those with: osteoarthritis, advanced osteoporosis and muscle strain or tears. Each person’s water therapy programme is different, some pain sufferers do solely water therapy exercises and others use a combination of land-based and water-based exercises to manage their pain or rehabilitate.
The act of gentle movement of the body has the potential to truly help reduce and manage pain. Speak to your GP about which exercises will be best for you and keep active to improve your wellbeing.
Lee Dover is a senior copywriter at Mediaworks with an interest in healthcare as well as researching into healthier ways of living. He has a BA (Hons) in Magazine Journalism.