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Can Exercise Help My Pain?

February 27, 2018 | Fisher-Titus Healthy Living Team

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When something hurts, the last thing you want to do is work out. But, in many cases, that’s exactly what you need to do to feel better.

Research indicates that’s certainly true of pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia. It’s also true of joint pain. In fact, exercise can take the edge off of many kinds of pain.

That’s because exercise boosts the body’s natural production of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. 

The result is that you feel better, and you don’t have to jog five miles to reap these benefits. Taking a walk or participating in low-impact activities like yoga will also boost your mood.

But there are other ways that exercise can improve pain. Let’s take a look at a few different conditions—and how exercise for pain can help.

Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, exercise is the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.

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So how much exercise—and what kind—is good?

In general, you should strive for about 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or an equivalent combination of both.

Walking and aquatic exercises are one of the best choices you can make because they’re easy on the joints. And don’t forget to add strength training and stretching to the mix.

Fibromyalgia

The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association also advocates for the importance of exercise for pain—including yoga, Pilates, stretching, strength training and aerobic exercise.

If a 2-mile walk sounds like too much, remember that you can start small. Even small household chores, like picking up around the house, get you moving and can add up over the course of a day.

Don’t do too much too fast. Everyone has to start somewhere and even a 2-minute walk can be beneficial.

Lastly, consider getting started with the help of a physical therapist who is familiar with fibromyalgia and can help you come up with a plan that’s right for you.

Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States and can have many causes, many of which need medical attention (your cue to see a doctor before beginning an exercise program).

Most of us know that strengthening your core muscles can improve back pain, but there are other ways exercise can help as well, including improving circulation, alleviating stiffness and releasing endorphins that can reduce pain.

Migraines

No, we’re not suggesting you exercise while you have a migraine. But the American Migraine Foundation does say that regular exercise can play a role in helping prevent—or at least reduce the frequency of—migraines.

That’s because two of the biggest triggers of migraines are stress and inadequate sleep. And exercise has been proven to help with both.

In fact, one study indicated that exercising for 40 minutes three times a week was as effective as the drug topiramate in reducing migraines.

We all know exercise is good for us in general. But it can also be an invaluable tool in helping to manage pain. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our pain management specialists. It’ll be the first step in not just getting healthier, but also feeling better.

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