If you’re experiencing chronic pain, then you’re not alone. About 50.2 million adults have reported pain on most days, if not daily. This can have serious consequences on everyday functioning, mental health, and the general quality of one’s life. It can hamper one’s ability to engage in routine activities, such as household chores, exercise, sleeping, and even socializing.
Pain can be managed in several ways, whether through medication, physical therapy, or mind and body techniques such as acupuncture. Another way of dealing with chronic pain that is often overlooked may seem like a rather simple solution: exercise. However, with so much information on workouts available today, it can be overwhelming to navigate the world of exercise.
Here are four tips you can use to get started:
1. Start slowly and gradually
When starting a new exercise routine, it’s best to go slowly and gradually. The body needs time to build up strength and endurance, both of which are essential to developing healthier muscles and bones. This in turn encourages better posture and greater strength to lessen pain.
Starting off slowly will also lessen the chances of getting injured again. Getting a coach may be helpful to pace and plan your workouts. In fact, a study found that coaches who provided telerehabilitation from home were able to reduce discomfort, improve physical function, and better the quality of life in their clients with chronic pain.
2. Talk to a health professional before starting an exercise regimen
Each person has their own unique physical makeup with different medical conditions. Because of this, it is important to consult a health professional before starting an exercise regimen. This rules out any risks or complications that may arise from strenuous physical activity.
However, not everybody may have access to a physician given the ongoing doctor shortage. In such cases, it’s still possible to consult independent nurse practitioners who deliver quality care to patients. And since nurse practitioners can practice virtually from home, you don’t need to go very far to get the medical advice you need. For instance, you can reach out to sports medicine nurses to find out what exercises you can do to alleviate strained muscles or a painful back without having to go to a clinic.
3. Try different types of exercises
There are many exercises you can do to prevent or manage chronic pain. They can either be aerobic, which can be sustained for longer periods for fat loss, or anaerobic, which typically involves a burst of physical activity to build muscle.
If you’re treating a common knee injury, for example, then exercises such as straight leg raises and hamstring curls will be very beneficial. As long as a licensed healthcare practitioner gives you the go signal, you can try different types of exercises to manage your pain.
4. Find time to relax
While exercising more may be beneficial to pain management, it is only part of the equation. One should balance their exercises with relaxation techniques to promote rest and recovery. Activities such as deep breathing, meditation, and muscle relaxation can relieve the tension in muscles and joints.
It can also be helpful to invest time and attention into hobbies and other enjoyable activities. Keeping busy redirects energy towards something more positive and productive. When you aren’t exercising, try reading a new book, journaling, or gardening. Such activities will keep your mind busy while you heal.
The Bottom Line
Injuries are difficult enough to deal with, and the pain that comes after recovery is even more challenging to manage. Fortunately, exercise is one of the easier and more accessible ways to alleviate chronic pain. Not only that, but you can improve your overall health and well-being, too.