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September 17, 2021 3 min read

How to Exercise When You Have Chronic Pain

 

If you experience chronic pain, you may be tempted to skip exercise altogether. Many people with chronic pain think that exercising will make their pain worse, however, that’s not the case. Exercise can actually benefit people with chronic pain in a number of ways. In this article, we’ll discuss different exercise options to try, as well as share tips for making movement safe and effective.

 

How does exercise help with chronic pain?

 

Unlike an acute injury, many types of chronic pain are less about structural or tissue damage and more about the sensitivity of the nervous system. Research shows that in people with certain types of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and neuropathy, exercise can actually help desensitize painful nerves, leading to a gradual reduction of pain over time. The more consistently you exercise, the easier you’ll be able to engage in activities and daily living.

 

For people with chronic pain due to arthritis or joint pain, exercise is equally as vital. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue.

 

Additionally, exercising has been shown to improve mood, boost energy levels, stimulate blood flow, manage weight, and improve sleep, all things that are very important in those living with chronic pain.

 

What types of exercise are good for those with chronic pain?

 

Incorporating a combination of stretching, strengthening, and cardiovascular exercise is ideal for those living with chronic pain.

 

  • Stretching: Stretch at least once a day for 10 to 20 minutes to help increase flexibility, loosen tight or stiff muscles, and improve your range of motion. When done consistently, stretching will help make everyday movements easier.
  • Strengthening: Strengthening exercises, such as squats, sit-ups, wall push-ups, and bicep curls, help build strong muscles. Aim to do 10 to 20 minutes of strengthening exercises at least twice a week.
  • Cardio: Cardiovascular exercise helps maintain heart health and stamina. Choose low-impact exercises, such as walking, rebounding, swimming, bike riding, or elliptical training, as these strengthen muscles and reduce stiffness without putting much pressure on your joints. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of cardio at least five days a week.

 

Tips for exercising with chronic pain

 

  1. Choose exercises you enjoy

 

When experimenting with different exercises, take notice of which ones you really enjoy. Finding ways to move that you actually like will make adhering to a consistent exercise program much easier.  

 

  1. Start slowly

 

Ease yourself into your new exercise routine slowly, especially if you haven’t been active for a long time. Start with just five to ten minutes a day and slowly increase your efforts as you gain strength, flexibility, and confidence. Additionally, if you choose to exercise in a group setting, move at your own pace. Never try to keep up with a class or group just to blend in. Find your own rhythm.

 

  1. Allow for some discomfort

 

Exercising won’t make your pain magically go away, so accept that you’ll experience some pain and discomfort while exercising. The key is to find a happy balance where you’re able to move your body, but not cause yourself too much pain. It can be helpful to use the 0-10 scale to monitor your pain levels when exercising. If your pain level increases by more than two points from baseline, you should temporarily stop or modify the exercise. Listen to your body and be patient with your progress.

 

  1. Support your body

 

To reduce your pain before, during, or after exercise, consider using natural pain relief products. Aromalief offers 3-in-1 vegan hemp lotions that relieve pain, moisturize the skin, and offer the calming benefits of aromatherapy. Aromalief’s soothing lotions contain several pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory ingredients, including hemp seed oil, menthol, glucosamine, chondroitin, L-arginine, MSM, and aloe vera.

 

You may also want to consider using a compression sleeve to stabilize your knee, ankle, or elbow and improve blood flow. Apply Aromalief lotion first, then slip on your compression sleeve.

 

 The bottom line

 

Just because you have chronic pain doesn’t mean you should avoid exercise. In fact, moving your body is an important part of managing your pain and improving your quality of life. Everybody can find some form of exercise they can do and enjoy. Just remember to pace yourself and consult with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

 

Please consult with your doctor before starting any pain relieving regimen. The tips provided are not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. 

References:

 

https://give.brighamandwomens.org/chronic-pain/

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20047971

 

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/exercise-and-mood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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