It is estimated that around 20% of adults in the US suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain usually occurs as a side-effect of other chronic health conditions, although it can also be caused by lifestyle.
Thankfully, in addition to the help that your doctor can provide, you can also carry out exercises yourself that can help alleviate your symptoms! In this article, we will explore some of these exercises.
Chronic Pain and Mental Health
Chronic pain often takes a significant toll on mental health, with feelings of stress, anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness very common. It is essential if you suffer from a chronic health condition to make sure that you tell your doctor about any physical or mental changes you may experience, and to keep in regular correspondence with your doctor. There are many Chronic Care Management methods, such as mindfulness techniques to manage bouts of extreme pain, as well as medications and physical therapies.
Cardiovascular exercise is essential for physical and mental health. Physical inactivity can cause reduced strength and mobility and even stiffness and pain. There are many exercises that you can do, even if you have no fitness equipment.
Regular (approximately 30 minutes a few times a week) walking is proven to increase your strength and endurance. Running, cycling, and swimming are also great ways of staying healthy. However, with any exercise, you should take care not to push your body too hard, especially if you suffer from chronic pain.
Stretches can also help strengthen your muscles and increase your mobility. There are many stretches that you can do to relieve pain and tension without the use of equipment. Stretches like the low back and glute stretch can help reduce neck and back pain. The low back stretch is simple:
- Lie down on your back
- Bring the knees up to the chest and then wrap your arms around them
- Gently rock from side to side
The glute stretch is also simple:
- Sit or stand beside a door
- Raise one elbow above your shoulder and rest it against the door, rotating the outside of your shoulder blade upwards
- Turn your head away in the opposite direction and look down at the floor
- Place your free hand on your head and apply gentle pressure
Exercises for Relaxation
Relaxation exercises are also essential for your mental and physical well-being. You can do relaxation exercises with no equipment at all. One of these exercises is the deep breathing exercise, which is easy to do:
- Lie on your back on a comfortable surface such as a bed and close your eyes.
- Rest your hands on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose slowly and out through your mouth, feeling your belly rise and fall with each breath.
- Continue focusing on the breath and bringing your mind back to it if it wanders elsewhere.
The deep breathing exercise is influenced by mindfulness techniques, which are used to relax the mind and body and have been reported to reduce physical pain.
Exercises for Strength
Strengthening exercises are also beneficial for improving your core strength, which is very important for chronic pain sufferers. Inadequate core strength can lead to increased pain and a risk of further injuries. Strengthening exercises include simple push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges.
It is important to remember that you should always consult your doctor before attempting any exercise routine.