By Scott Rutherford
veryone deals with pain but living with chronic pain can be especially difficult. Still, it’s important to keep active. Finding exercise that you can do with chronic pain can be a challenge, but exercise helps release dopamine, a brain chemical tied to feelings of pleasure and regulating pain. Donald Allison, a physical therapist and partner at Function First Physical Therapy, explained, “You can get dopamine through a pill or through doing something active that you want to do.” Clearly, the active route is more beneficial – and can be more fun. Allison suggests that it's not even particularly important what physical activity people dealing with chronic pain do, as long as it's “an exercise they’re willing to do, something they want to do, and they’ll stick with.”
The following exercises are often recommended for people with chronic pain, and are worth looking into, but don’t limit yourself to them. Find an activity you enjoy and get that body moving.
This classic exercise program of gentle, controlled movements is a great way to move and stretch your body. You can modify any of the exercises to accommodate your fitness level and ability.
Stretching, walking through the water, or simply marching in place provides a low impact workout with the added gentle resistance of being in the water. Heatedpools have the additional bonus of helping relieve chronic pain symptoms.
Yoga is a versatile exercise program suitable for beginners all the way to advanced practitioners. Yoga blocks and straps can help you modify poses, and a skilledinstructor can help you develop a routine appropriate for your condition. By using your own body weight as a form of strength training, yoga can be as challenging as you would like it to be. It’s also a great way to get in touch with your body and create a strong mind/body connection.
Utilizing smartwatches and fitness trackers to help you meet your goals is a great way to complement your healthcare tracking regimen. These devices provide encouragement to move on a regular basis, heart rate tracking, weight monitoring, and sleep tracking for a well- rounded wellness plan.
Much like swimming provides a full-body workout without putting as much stress on your joints as most other types of exercise.
Again, these are just a few suggestions. In the end, it comes down to finding an exercise you can stick with, and a big part of that is finding something you enjoy doing.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not individual medical advice. Please seek out the advice of your primary care physician or specialist and always get approval before beginning a new wellness regimen.