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Displaying items by tag: chronic pain

Around 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain. They spend up to billions of dollars in medical treatment and pain relief measures, not to mention the cost of the emotional and mental burden of waking up every morning to another day of constant pain.

There is one method of pain management that is not only basically free, but also provides many other benefits to your physical, emotional, and mental health. And that method is exercising.

It may seem counterintuitive at first—doesn't exercising actually cause pain, especially when you overdo it? But the fact is, the right exercises can reduce or completely eliminate your pain over a period of time.

Which Exercises Work

Let's start this section by reiterating that any new exercise routine—especially when you're in chronic pain—should first be discussed with and cleared by your doctor. Some exercises can cause more harm than good when done incorrectly or too frequently, so make sure your doctor has approved your new routine. You might also want to consider working with a physical therapist or personal trainer who specializes in seniors and pain relief. They can help you get the most out of your pain management routine. 

There are three main types of exercises, and each of them can provide different forms of pain relief. These are:

  • Cardiovascular exercises
  • Stretching exercises
  • Strengthening exercises

Cardiovascular Exercises

These exercises are often called "cardio" or "aerobic" exercises. These are activities that get your heart pumping at speeds close to its upper limits. The two easiest and low cost cardio workouts are walking and swimming. Walking for half an hour a day, three to five days a week, can help with pain relief, as well as increase your endurance and heart health. Aerobic exercise like walking can also increase production of endorphins, the hormones that boosts your mental health and decreases sensitivity to pain.

Swimming also provides those physiological and psychological improvements, with the added benefit of being accessible for seniors with mobility problems. Swimming is very relaxing, and doesn't put as much stress on your muscles and joints.

Stretching Exercises

Workouts that focus on strengthening can relieve tension and stiffness in the lower back or neck. Stretching can also help you retain balance and muscle flexibility, reducing falls. Here's a simple and quick stretching exercise anyone can do, that can provide great long-term benefits:

  • Sit tall in a chair or on your bed. 
  • To warm up, first lean your head gently to one side, then the other.
  • Lift your right arm over your head, and rest your hand on the left side of your head.
  • Angle your head slightly to your right.
  • Hold for up to 30 seconds.
  • Repeat with your left arm.

Strengthening Exercises

Building strength can help you maintain a good posture and reduce strain on your joints and muscles. In the long run, it can go a long way in reducing pain. By doing strengthening exercises, you get the added benefit of reducing your chance of falls and injuries.

Strength exercises are workouts that build strength. These include push-ups, squats, weight traning, and the like. Many of these exercises aren't appropriate for seniors dealing with severe chronic pain, so speak with your doctor about what you should and shouldn't do.

Working with a physical therapist can also ensure you maximize exercise for pain relief in a safe and reliable way. At Regency Nursing, our top-notch physical therapists are experts in senior chronic pain, and which exercise routines are best suited to combat it.

To read more about the benefits of exercising for seniors, check out this article from our other blog: Senior Fitness Guide by Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation

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