What is chronic pain, first of all? Chronic pain is discomfort located in a specific part of the body that persists longer than it should. For instance, you can expect to experience pain after suffering an injury, of course, but it typically will lessen with time and eventually go away. When the pain is sustained long after the normal point of departure, you’re experiencing what is medically known as chronic pain.
Exercising is one proven way to reduce chronic pain for many people. I know what you’re thinking. It hurts like the dickens just to get out of a chair, how the heck am I supposed to exercise, you freak! Point taken. Exercising to reduce chronic pain doesn’t mean going out and becoming the next Lance Armstrong. You don’t need to go the fitness center and start taking Yoga Booty Ballet lessons or Tae-Bo. In fact, strenuous aerobic activity should be dutifully avoided. But that doesn’t give you Community Chest card reading “Get Out of all Exercising Free.”
The best exercises to reduce chronic pain are the low-impact aerobics, such as simple walking, biking or swimming. In fact, one of the most time-tested ways of beginning an exercise program to deal with chronic pain is to simply take a walk around your neighborhood. Start off with a light trek around the block and then work up to a breezy jaunt throughout the neighborhood. You don’t have to overdo it; if it’s not a really hot day, but you still come back dripping with sweat, you’re probably walking too fast. Slow down and enjoy the scenery. Ideally, you’d want to work up to the point where you’re walking at a fairly brisk pace, but one that’s not even close to jogging, for about 30 to 40 minutes. You also want to get to the point where the walking motion is helping to alleviate the pain. How do you this? By varying your stride. The best way to utilize walking as an exercise to reduce chronic pain is by varying the stride a little: first a long sloping stride, then a shorter one; go fast for a little bit and then go slower. Believe or not, by doing this you will soon find your pain reducing little by little.
Another good exercise to deal with chronic pain is riding a stationary or recumbent bike. You want to make a little adjustment to the seat, however, so that your legs are fully extending when you pedal. This will help to reduce pain caused by hyperextension.
Swimming is ideal for many people, provided they have access to a pool. There is one caveat to the benefits of using swimming to deal with chronic pain, however. An overhead stroke often puts strain on the back muscles, so when taking a dip in the pool to ease the misery of chronic pain, it is advised that you use either the backstroke or the side stroke. Using these swimming strokes will not only improve your pain, but allow you to swim longer.
Aerobic exercise done in moderation is almost always good, but there is one exercise that should be avoided. Stay away from any kind of exercise machine that requires a repetitive motion, such as a stepper or stair-climber. You basically are only using one set of muscles on these types of machine and so don’t really get the benefit of using walking or swimming, or even biking. The same thing goes with treadmills for the most part, although if you can adjust the pace at will and keep it going, even a treadmill is better than nothing. Even so, rather than going to the treadmill, try walking around the neighborhood or even the mall.
Exercising to treat chronic pain can be effective if done right. The main thing to remember is not to overdo it. Gradually increase your intensity level and, as always, consult a doctor before starting any exercise program.