When managing pain, medication can be beneficial. But, are you aware of how movement and exercise can be helpful too? Read on as we take a look at the importance of mobility when it comes to pain relief and what you can do to get moving.
How does exercise help?
Keeping active can help relieve some pain and can also help those who suffer from musculoskeletal pain. 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.
Measures to take
If you are suffering from pain, on a chronic scale or temporarily, the last thing that you want to do is make it worse. The following types of exercise are low impact and can work towards building up your strength and managing your pain.
Another way to relieve pain with movement is through hydrotherapy. This involves the use of water to help with exercises and strength building.
The amount of exercise ranges here, depending on the shallowness of the water as well as the equipment used. 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 can help pain sufferers from a variety of backgrounds. 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 some research results out there that have shown how yoga can help with back pain.
A study has shown that the brains of those who practise yoga regularly differ from those that don’t. 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.
Involving yourself in yoga classes isn’t recommended if you’re a sufferer of chronic pain, it can benefit individuals who have occasional soreness or long-lasting aches. This is through practising certain postures that lengthen the spine, improve alignment, and stretch and strengthen the muscles.
When it comes to back pain relief, stretching in the right way can release built-up tension and eliminate some of this pain. 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.
Naturally, there are a host of different poses that are suited to how much you want to stretch and strengthen. 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.
There are multiple benefits that you’ll benefit that go beyond just the physical perks. These include lowered heart rate and blood pressure and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Held in the same bracket as Yoga, Pilates also focuses on breathing control, gentle exercises and strengthening the body. 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.
Low-impact exercises with 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.
You can even practise Pilates exercises at your work desk too. You can find examples of these online, they’re all about controlled breathing and strengthening different muscle groups.
Aside from these, there are other gentle exercises that you can do. Speak to your GP about which exercises will be best for your pain management needs and keep active to improve your overall wellbeing.