Chronic pain is persistent pain that lasts at least 3 months and often much longer. No matter the cause of your chronic pain, the fact is it can make life nearly unbearable.
If you suffer from chronic pain, it can impair your ability to move, function, sleep, as well as cause additional problems such as anxiety and depression. Most people with chronic pain see a pain management specialist. And, depending on the severity of their condition, a large percentage of pain patients may find that they can benefit from physical therapy and exercise.
That’s because exercise can improve your flexibility, movement, and strength – which can all help combat chronic pain.
Certain types of exercise can be extremely beneficial and at the same time remain low impact so as not to cause additional pain.
Walking is a great form of exercise that has both physical and mental benefits. For a person who has been glued to the sofa staring at the same four walls, day in and day out, getting out and walking also means fresh air and possible interaction with others, which can dramatically help with depression, helping people realize they are not all alone.
To properly benefit from walking, setting an initial goal of walking 3 – 5 times a week for 30 – 45 minutes each time is a great place to start. Nobody is demanding a performance like that of Olympic champ Usain Bolt; just getting out and performing some level of physical activity can help. Start with small goals and work up to more challenging ones as they become possible. And by all means, if you require a walker or cane, take it along for the walk.
Low-Impact Swimming and Water Aerobics
For people with mobility issues or who are obese, your buoyancy in a pool can work your heart and lungs without the weight-bearing impact of walking. Water aerobics limits the stress on your legs and hips and is a fantastic way to start an exercise program without risking injury. As the difficulty of the aerobic exercise intensifies, try swimming laps in addition to the aerobic exercises. Swimming is an extremely efficient way to burn calories, lose fat, and gain muscle.
Mental Exercise: Meditation
When people think of exercise, images of weight rooms and sweating come to mind. However, not all exercise is physical. Some of the more beneficial exercises for people with chronic pain are mental exercise like meditation. Better yet, there is no equipment or special setting required.
Meditation can be done in the home on the couch, floor, or a comfortable chair. It includes focused deep breathing – which involves closing your eyes and concentrate on inhaling deeply through the nose, holding the breath, and exhaling through the mouth. With every exhale, you may find your pain lessening.
Meditation may also involve muscle contraction and release. Starting with your extremities, tightly contract and release each muscle group, working inward. For example, tense the muscles in your hand, then relax. Tense the muscles in the forearms, then relax. Tense the muscles in the upper arm, then relax. Do this until every muscle group of the body has been targeted and with each group, focus on feeling the pain leave your body.
These exercises can be done multiple times a day until you begin to notice a difference in your pain level.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing chronic pain, you may be amazed at the difference that taking the initiative to exercise can help you get back on track to feeling better. And, if you live in Oregon, Washington, or near Albuquerque, New Mexico, the pain management specialists at Lynx Healthcare have a location near you. You can contact them by calling (509) 591-0070 or request an appointment now and find out how to manage your pain with exercise.