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July 22, 2019

Managing pain with exercise and movement

When you think of pain management, your mind will likely hop to medication and painkillers. But there are other ways to support the management of pain, such as with movement and certain exercises. In this article, we’re exploring the ways that movement can benefit your pain management.

How movement can help

For musculoskeletal pain sufferers, or even those who are simply suffering a bout of strain or muscle pain, movement can help. 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 — it’s also crucial for a range of other things.

Steps to take

No matter whether the pain is temporary or chronic, the biggest thing to avoid is making it worse. The following types of exercise are low impact and can work towards building up your strength and managing your pain.

Stretches and yoga

Yoga has long been lauded for its assistance with back pain. One study, for example, 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.

Yoga may not help those with severe levels of discomfort, but for moderate aches and pains, yoga can be beneficial. This is through practising certain postures that lengthen the spine, improve alignment, and stretch and strengthen the muscles.

Stretching helps in releasing built-up tension and aches in the body. If you want to use yoga for this sort of relief, gentle yoga is what you should focus on, as more strenuous styles could cause damage. Always ask what sort of class it is before you sign up.

Certain poses are best for strengthening and stretching. The ‘extended child’s pose’, for example, lengthens the sides of the body whilst providing traction on the spine. And, the ‘cobra’ is all about stretching and strengthening the spine. When doing yoga, you might benefit from the other health perks of the exercise. These include lowered heart rate and blood pressure and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Movement and Pilates

There are similarities with yoga and Pilates for breathing and gentle exercise. But yoga is more about poses that emphasise relaxation and meditation, and Pilates is usually performed as a flow of movement rather than static exercises.

Pilates uses a mat or special equipment to perform low-impact moves. Specialised apparatus can help resistance if you want to 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.

Pilates in often cited for offering relief for arthritic pain, as well as improving joint mobility, balance,tone, and posture. In addition to this, it works with your body to relievestress and tension.

Desk exercise are a way to do some Pilate at work too! You can find examples of these online, they’re all about controlled breathing and strengthening different muscle groups.

Make a splash with hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a popular way of managing pain. This involves the use of water to help with exercises and strength building.

Exercises during hydrotherapy can be carried out on sophisticated devices, such as underwater treadmills, or can simply be easy routines in shallow water. 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, the water is able to minimise 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 — something that they may not have been able to do on land, either.

Water therapy is useful for people with a number of conditions. In particular, individuals with the following conditions are referred for hydrotherapy: osteoarthritis, advanced osteoporosis and those with 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.

There are other options of gentle exercise too. Speak to your GP about which exercises will be best for your pain management needs and keep active to improve your overall wellbeing.



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