Reduce Pain With Fitness
Workouts For Chronic Pain
It's an excellent form of light aerobic exercise, which provides a list of healing benefits: It brings oxygen and nutrition to your muscles to keep them healthy, helps rebuild stamina, boosts energy, and reduces stiffness and pain. Low-impact aerobics is most effective for improving FMS symptoms. Biking is another good option. The reciprocal, or back-and-forth, motion helps provide relaxation. Other effective forms of aerobic exercise include swimming and water aerobics in a heated pool (warm water relaxes muscles, and the buoyancy of the water helps with movement, whereas cold water can make muscles tense up) and using an elliptical trainer (which is lower impact than a treadmill).
2. StretchingDo it at least once a day to help increase flexibility, loosen tight, stiff muscles, and improve range of motion—the combination of which will help ease everyday movements, like looking over your shoulder or reaching for a can on the top shelf of your pantry. Stretching during workouts may also help you to tolerate training better. Stretch to cool down, not warm up. The best time to stretch is after some form of light warm-up exercise.
3. Strength TrainingThe trick is to use light weights (start with 3 to 5 pounds) and lift slowly and precisely to improve tone and make muscles stronger—stronger muscles use less effort than weaker muscles, which may leave them less fatigued. Plus, studies show strength training can help treat depression, even as well as some medications. Aim to work out each major area—legs, chest, shoulders, back, arms, and abs—two to three times per week, with at least a 1-day break in between. Start with a weight you can lift comfortably for eight reps, then gradually up it to 10 and 12 reps. When you can lift the weight 12 times, two sessions in a row, you're ready to increase the weight slightly (and start back down at eight reps.)
4. YogaPracticing the Hatha kind—a more gentle combination of postures, breathing, and meditation—reduces the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain in women with fibromyalgia, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Pain Research. Participants reported significantly less pain; they were also more accepting of their condition and felt less helpless and more mindful. Yoga also helps build endurance and energy and improves sleep and concentration. Tai chi, where you slowly and gracefully perform a series of movements, has also been shown to help relieve fibro pain and other symptoms—maybe even better than stretching, according to a recent study from Tufts Medical Center.
5. Everyday ActivitiesThat's right—studies show that playing with your kids, mopping the floors, gardening, and other things you do in daily life count toward increasing fitness and reducing symptoms. Spread out your list of chores throughout the day, doing the tougher ones in the morning. And give yourself a break. When you need a rest, take it!