Chronic Pain … Can Exercise Really Help? and Why?
The theme for this week …
You want to be more active, but chronic pain creates a hurdle that’s pretty challenging to get over. Surprisingly, adding activity may be just the thing you need to help with your chronic pain. Read on …
Activity and chronic pain
Physical activity is so magical for the body, but what about when we have pain that just doesn’t go away? Is activity still good to do?
In turning to research to answer this question, we find the answer is mixed. This comprehensive analysis is from 2014. Here are the highlights:
- Begin easy: start with something easy such as walking or cycling.
- Recovery time is important. The stronger the reaction to activity, the more important it is to have appropriate recovery time.
- Exceptions: There are a few cases where being more active is not a good idea — fibromyalgia, ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome).
A more practical read is this 2021 article in the New York Times. The key points mirror those that the research above noted:
- Start small with something you enjoy. Gardening and dog-walking count!
- Find what works: To find good exercises given your specific challenges, use a pick and choose strategy. Yoga is one example–it works for most, but not for all.
- Experiment: Some exercises may be stressful–avoid them. Even some Tai Chi movements may be stressful. Skip them.
- Effectiveness: Movement results in improved pain thresholds by neurotransmitter changes and can be more effective than massage and stress management. Give yourself permission to stop if the benefits are negligible.
- Two-hour rule: If the pain is worse two hours after the activity, then dial it back.
How can Bridging® play a role with helping you get active?
When simple movement is painful or hard for you, the Bridging® process can identify the root of what’s keeping you from easily moving, and then reset your muscle memory to allow you to work toward your goals.
(Except when you have fibromyalgia and ME/CFS.)
Insight of the Week from Cara
Why does your pain continue, even though you do so many things that should be helping?
Look to the past for clues
To begin with, looking at a longer period of your past for clues to your pain and mobility challenges will likely lead us to different insights about what is causing the pain.
Although you may be over age 40, its very likely that events and injuries from your youth may be coming back to haunt you.
Lots of little things add up!
This week’s video session guest, Suzanne, is fairly typical of so many with chronic pain. She has tried stretching, massage, and acupuncture, only to have the pain return.
In her past, she experienced an assortment of events, each of which can cause long-lasting compensations. When you add the cumulative effects up, it’s easy to see why she would have a hard time clearing the pain once and for all. These are the highlights of her movement disruptors:
- gymnastics injuries
- childhood falls
- ankle sprains
- pregnant with twins
- being born breech with dislocated shoulder
If you are a regular reader, you know I organize life’s events into four disruptor categories. Suzanne has checked three of the four — injury, illness, and birth/early life events. See the video here.
Targeted problem-solving and fast solutions
Clients like Suzanne find Bridging’s targeted approach to problem-solving identifies the issues that keep them from easily moving. Often these are issues that other professionals don’t consider, and don’t show up on imaging.
Even better than finding a cause, is the solution — gentle, rocking, and stretch-based muscle resetting during Bridging®, which is very relaxing.