Chronic pain can make you feel like staying in bed all day. But, at the same time, it’s often true that the more you move, the better you feel.
While marathons or pick-up basketball might not be a good idea, most experts agree that stretching definitely is. In one 2010 study of 53 female fibromyalgia patients, for example, it was found that doing yoga reduced pain by 24 percent. (It’s worth noting that it significantly reduced depression and fatigue, as well.)
Stretching is a whole lot more than the toe touches we learned in gym class years ago. But first, here are a few general tips to get you started in using stretches for pain relief:
• Do not force the body—stretching should be pain free.
• Move into a stretch slowly.
• Don’t bounce! This isn’t Jazzercise.
• Hold stretches for about 15 to 30 seconds.
• Repeat a stretch between two and five times.
• If pain is severe or chronic, your first move should be to see a doctor.
With that said, let’s dive into some of the many options for stretches for pain relief.
If you start looking around, you’ll find classes that are dedicated solely to stretching. These may be at your local gym, community center or senior center. Having an instructor allows you to turn your brain off and simply enjoy the sensation of stretching one muscle after another—until your entire body is relaxed and feeling good.
With that said, it’s not always possible to devote an entire hour to stretches for pain relief. This is where technology comes in handy. In about two minutes, you can find dozens of stretching apps, many of which are free, that you can access right on your phone. Start Stretching is good for beginners. Sworkit provides just about every type of workout you could think of, including routines with stretches for pain relief.
Many people feel like they haven’t really stretched until they’ve done a yoga class. That’s because you’re not just working leg or arm muscles. In fact, you’ll be stretching muscles you might not have even known you have, and these are some of the best stretches for pain relief. Add in some good music and deep breathing and you’ll likely find yourself feeling pretty good when it’s time to leave. If you’re new to yoga, choose a class for beginners—or even consider signing up for a private session to get you up to speed on the basics.
The next time you’re at your desk working, take a moment to check in with your body. Are your shoulders hunched? Is your neck strained? Taking just a few minutes out of your day to stretch can help alleviate the workplace pain that can sneak up on you over the course of a long day. Here are 12 simple exercises you can do at your desk.
Stretching is just one way to help address—and alleviate—chronic pain. Working together with your doctor, you can come up with a multi-pronged plan to do everything you can to feel better. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our pain management physicians.