EXERCISE FOR PAIN, ARE YOU JOKING ?

NO WAY !
I CAN’T WITH MY PAIN

Sure! I know that you have great difficulties to exercise. 

I am not asking you to climb the Mount Everest because with your pain you’re already up there. The guys climbing it have a lot of pain and you have the same. 

But don’t worry, I am not a fan of the famous saying “no pain, no gain”. And I am not running any boot camp. 

But the reality is that we all have to use physical activities within our capabilities. Even if you’re wheelchair bound or even bedridden some physical activity is still possible and will benefit you.


WHY SHOULD YOU EXERCISE FOR YOUR PAIN?

Exercising does

  • Increase function

  • Improve sleep

  • Better mood

  • Decrease stress

  • Increase circulation

  • Improve pain

HOW DOES IT DO ALL THAT ?

Function

When not in use muscles get shorter. This is why we all have morning stiffness. This acts not only on the muscles but also the joints and we all stretch in the morning. 

The less we use our muscles, the more we need to stretch. And this tends to be painful. But the less we use them and the more painful it becomes to stretch them. This is one of the vicious cycle that aggravates pain.

By exercising, we stretch our muscles and joints and improve our function. The good news are that we don’t have to start with the painful areas. More on that latter. 


Sleep

Sleep tends to be very disturbed in chronic pain. This is another vicious cycle: more pain, less sleep and more pain. Exercise makes us produce hormones such as serotonin and endorphins that improve our sleep.


Mood

Those same hormones act positively on our mood which tends to be disturbed in chronic pain. Again another vicious cycle!


Stress

Stress is marked by an increase of cortisol and epinephrine productions. Exercise and post exercise relaxation decrease them and improves stress. 


Circulation

Not only movements improve circulation by a better venous and lymphatic return but it does elicit nitric oxide (NO) production that dilates the blood vessels. This improvement in circulation generates a better detoxication by a washout effect but also a better oxygenation of our muscles and our organs. 


Pain

Again through the production of endorphins and serotonin pain is decreased. Another positive effect is through cerebral distraction. In chronic pain, a huge part of our brain is busy being in pain. By distracting it through other activities, we decrease the area of the brain involved with pain. 


HOW DO WE KNOW ALL THAT ?

Many investigations have shown the changes induced by chronic pain. Not only do brain areas involved in pain are active and recruiting adjacent areas as well. But also areas that should be quiet, in rest and recovery mode are hugely decreased.

This is shown in the following link where the resting areas in blue are reduced to an abnormally minimal area in chronic pain.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1244387/chronic_pain_can_damage_brain/