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Shake it off – how movement helps pain

Often times injury and pain is a result of over exercise and exertion on our bodies. These acute injuries require rest in order to improve, because of this we usually associate pain with a need to rest and take it easy. Chronic pain on the other hand is a different story. It can actually be assuaged by getting out there and getting moving.

It seems counter intuitive that movement would lessen pain, but most chronic pain stems from tight and unused muscle groups. Take low-back pain and sciatica for instance. Prolonged sitting and poor posture aggravate the muscles in the low-back causing them to become tight and painful. By standing up, stretching, or engaging in an exercise that encourages mindful moving, and listening to your body, (think pilates, or yoga) these muscles get the chance to loosen up. The more relaxed they become, the less painful they will be. Pilates and yoga are both lower impact exercises that focus on using the ‘core’ muscles. Having weak core muscles impacts the way we move everyday. We overcompensate for this weakness and put excess strain on our other muscle groups, causing them to become injured and over worked. Strengthening the core is the best way to help alleviate pain and discomfort, especially in the back.

Sometimes pain can seem too intense to take care of without the help of a professional. Seeking out a physical therapist or chiropractor can help pin-point the pain and diagnose what is causing it. These are trained medical professionals whose careers revolve around helping people minimize pain from both acute and chronic sources. They can put together stretching and exercise treatments to help alleviate the pain as well as strengthening surrounding muscle groups in order to help prevent future pain as well. The great thing about physical therapy is that the exercises and stretches start light and increase in intensity as you improve. Pacing yourself and starting with light exercise instead of jumping right into it will help prevent any exercise related injuries.

With any kind of pain the most important thing is to listen to your body. “No pain no gain” isn’t always the best mantra, as it can often be the warning sign of a serious underlying problem. Look for exercises that you not only enjoy but leave you feeling better than when you started. It will encourage you to want to keep moving, hopefully helping soothe chronic aches and pains.

 

 

(Sources: WebMD, HealthLine)