Exercise And Pain Relief

Exercise And Pain Relief

Appropriate levels of exercise, stretching and hydrotherapy can significantly reduce pain levels and brain fog. They are self care techniques that every patient can use, regardless of the seriousness of their condition.

For many pain sufferers the notion of exercising as a way of relieving pain is, quite simply, counter-intuitive. That is particularly so in the case of pain related to a condition such as fibromyalgia, because the symptoms are often exertion relating. Meaning the symptoms are often worse, particularly pain and fatigue, after excess exertion. The key phrase is “excess exertion”. Experience and research have shown that the appropriate levels of exercise can in fact improve the patients energy level and reduce pain sensation. The issue is finding the right level of physical exertion for each patient. Because symptoms and the extent of the specific symptoms can vary significantly from one patient to another, there is no standard routine applicable to all fibromyalgia patients.

Exercise is beneficial for at least two reasons. It increases overall circulation and as a result helps to nourish tissue throughout the body thereby reducing pain and flushing toxins. In addition, exercise causes the release of endorphins in the brain which helps to improve the patients emotional state.

The best approach is for each patient to start in a cautious mode and not strain themselves. This is not a situation where pushing oneself to exhaustion is advisable. In fact, that approach would likely aggravate the symptoms.

Borrowing from treatments used for arthritis patients, exercise in water would likely be beneficial for fibromyalgia patients. The Arthritis Foundation in conjunction with the YMCA has developed an aquatics exercise program for persons with arthritis or other physical limitations. The program is premised on the fact that the natural buoyancy of the water facilitates ease of motion. The lack of resistance in water allows for motion with less effort. The result is greater range of motion, without an attendant increase in pain or an injury.

The optimum conditions are to do hydrotherapy in tepid water for durations of 15-30 minutes 2-3 times per week. Patients should consider contacting their local YMCA to determine if they have a local program.

Recommendations for exercise are to limit exercise to gentle motions such as stretching, gentle yoga or walking. The most important rule is to start very slowly. Rushing into exercise and overdoing it is always a problem. It is even more of a problem for the fibromyalgia patient. Build stamina and endurance over long periods of time. There is no rush, and in fact, rushing will not help.

Some parameters for exercise include low impact activities and choosing an activity the patient enjoys. If the patient enjoys the activity, this will likely result in improved compliance and will also improve his/her overall sense of well-being. The Oregon Fibromyalgia Foundation provides a video of a gentle exercise program for fibromyalgia patients. (www.myalgia.com) Another option is consultation with a physical therapist to develop an individualized program. Other options include practicing Tai Chi or Qi Gong. These are asian modalities, which can aide in building stamina without straining the body.

Five Fibromyalgia Self Care Stretching Exercises

  1. Stretch neck by gently moving neck in a circular motion. Begin with the neck in a neutral position, Bring head forward reaching the chin towards the chest. Return to neutral. Tilt head to the right, bringing the right ear towards the right shoulder. Return to neutral position. Reach head backwards, tilting towards the upper back. Return to neutral. Tilt head to the left, bringing the left ear towards the left shoulder. Repeat entire series 4-5 times. Do not force any of these motions, simply stretch gently. Eventually perform this as one continuous action, without returning to neutral between each motion.
  2. Gently shrug shoulders up and rotate backward, down, forward and up. Repeat this action 4-5 times and then reverse. Shrug shoulders and roll them forward, down, back and up. Repeat 4-5 times.
  3. Stand near a wall with the outside of your arm facing the wall. Stand arm length from the wall and place finger tips on the wall at the lowest point that can be reached. Slowly wall fingers up the wall. Stop where ever you begin to feel discomfort. Continue this exercise every day and you will begin to see improved range of motion and reduced pain.
  4. Sitting in a chair. bring you knee up and in towards your chest, gently stretching the upper leg muscles. Do each leg 4-5 times.
  5. Standing while stabilizing yourself lift one leg and with knees touching raise the foot towards the buttock. Reach your hand back to your foot and gently pull the foot towards the buttock. If it is too difficult to balance, try doing this while laying on the floor, face facing the full.

Each of these is a simple exercise. Altogether these can be done in under 20 minutes. Doing these every day or even every other day, will improve the patients overall health, reduce pain levels and improve emotional well-being.

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