Pain sufferers know how essential pain medication is. 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.
Advantages of movement
Some benefits of movement include improved function and reduced 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.
Movements you can make
Of course, you don’t want to worsen any pain symptoms. The following types of exercise are low impact and can work towards building up your strength and managing your pain.
One research project discovered significant differences between the brains of those who experienced chronic pain and the brains of those who regularly practised yoga. 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.
If you’re a sufferer of severe pain, yoga might not be the way forward, but 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.
Especially regarding back pain, 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.
Ask your instructor to show you the poses that will benefit you. There are certain poses that are better for stretching and strengthening than others. 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 many other health benefits too. These include lowered heart rate and blood pressure and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
There are some similarities between yoga and Pilates because they focus 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.
This form of movement is a low-impact exercise that is either carried out on a mat or using special equipment. 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.
Research has discovered that Pilates can relieve individuals of back pain and practitioners of the form say that the exercise improves posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility and pain in the knee joint for example. In addition to this, it works with your body to relieve stress and tension.
Don’t think that you have to attend specialist classes either. You can find examples of desk exercises, they’re all about controlled breathing and strengthening different muscle groups.
Have you heard of hydrotherapy? This involves the use of water to help with exercises and strength building.
There are a range of exercises that make up hydrotherapy. They range from easy routines that are carried out in shallow water, to the use of high-tech equipment such as underwater treadmills. 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.
This type of 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.
Speak to your GP about other exercises may be best for your pain management needs and keep active to improve your overall wellbeing.