Exercise — Your Secret Weapon Against Chronic Pain

Exercise — Your Secret Weapon Against Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can come in many forms, but sports injuries, arthritis, back pain, and migraines are some of the most common sources of chronic pain.

While our team of providers provides a plethora of pain management therapies 一 from nutritional counseling to injections to physical therapy  一 we want you to know that exercise can be a great defense against many different types of chronic pain.

Here’s a closer look at exercise combats chronic pain.

Exercise releases natural painkillers

Engaging in exercise prompts your body to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the brain. These chemicals interact with receptors in your brain, reducing your perception of pain and promoting a sense of well-being. 

To receive this benefit of exercise, you should:

By incorporating exercise into your routine, you can tap into this natural pain relief mechanism and experience a decrease in chronic pain symptoms.

Exercise alleviates joint pain by strengthening muscles

Chronic pain often leads to muscle weakness and joint stiffness. Regular exercise, particularly strength training and stretching exercises, helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding the affected area and increase flexibility in the joints. Stronger muscles provide better support to the body, alleviating stress on the joints and reducing pain.

Physical activity boosts your mood

Chronic pain can take a toll on your mental health. Exercise has been shown to improve mood and promote mental well-being

When you engage in physical activity, your body releases neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are known to boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression. 

Exercise can distract you from focusing solely on your pain and provide a sense of accomplishment, improved self-esteem, and improved mental well-being.

Regular exercise enhances your sleep quality 

Chronic pain often disrupts sleep, leading to a vicious cycle where lack of sleep exacerbates pain, and increased pain disrupts sleep further. Regular exercise can help break you out of this cycle by improving your sleep quality. 

Physical activity increases the production of adenosine, a chemical that promotes sleep. It also helps regulate your body's circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Exercise promotes weight management 

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for managing chronic pain, as excess weight puts additional strain on your joints and can exacerbate pain symptoms. Exercise plays a vital role in weight management by burning calories and building lean muscle mass. It increases your metabolic rate, making it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Getting started with exercise

Before starting any exercise program, it's important to consult with our team, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. Our team can provide guidance tailored to your specific needs and recommend suitable exercises. 

Here are some general tips to get started:

Start slow

Begin with low-impact exercises such as walking, yoga, bicycling, or swimming. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workout as your fitness level improves.

Starting slow is even more important if you have migraines. Easing into exercise can help you receive the benefits of exercise while avoiding exercise-induced migraines. 

Listen to your body

Pay attention to your pain levels before, during, and after you workout. If you experience increased pain, modify your exercise or try a different exercise that is less demanding.

Incorporate variety

Include a mix of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises to maximize the benefits. This variety helps improve overall fitness, prevent muscle imbalances, and reduce the risk of injury.

Stay consistent

Consistency is key when it comes to reaping the benefits of exercise for chronic pain management. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day, but keep in mind that walking, swimming, and cycling count.

If provided physical therapy exercises or stretches, do them as directed.

Seek support

Consider joining a support group or finding an exercise buddy who understands your challenges. Having someone to share your journey with can provide motivation, accountability, and a sense of camaraderie.

What if exercise isn’t enough to combat pain?

Remember, while exercise can be a secret weapon against  chronic pain, it may not be a cure-all. It's essential to combine exercise with other treatment modalities recommended by our team for a comprehensive approach to pain management.

Incorporating exercise into your daily routine might feel challenging at first, especially when you're dealing with chronic pain. However, with patience, persistence, and the right guidance, you can unlock the immense benefits that regular physical activity offers. Take the first step today, and let exercise become your secret weapon against chronic pain.

Schedule an appointment at the International Spine, Pain & Performance Center today. Call or click to get started in our Arlington, Virginia, or Washington DC, office.


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