First, it’s essential to acknowledge that body pain can arise from a variety of sources. Some common causes include chronic conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia, injury or trauma, and lifestyle habits such as prolonged sitting or repetitive movements. Each of these sources of pain requires different approaches to management, and exercise can play a critical role in many of them.
The Science of Exercise and Pain
Research in the past decade has provided significant evidence that exercise can not only help manage body pain but also prevent it. A study published in the Journal of Pain (2017) found that regular physical activity lowered the risk of developing chronic pain by up to 25%. Other research has suggested that exercise has a ‘natural painkiller’ effect on the body, releasing endorphins that act as natural opiates in the brain.
Exercise is also known to increase the strength and flexibility of muscles and joints, which can help alleviate pain in conditions like arthritis and lower back pain. Moreover, exercise can reduce body weight, thereby reducing the strain and pressure on joints and bones, which can significantly decrease pain levels.
Tailoring Exercise to Your Needs
The key to effective pain management through exercise is to adapt the type and level of activity to suit your needs and abilities. High-intensity exercises might not be suitable for those with chronic pain conditions, but low-impact activities like swimming, walking, and gentle yoga can provide substantial benefits.
Additionally, certain exercises can specifically target areas of pain. For instance, strengthening core muscles can significantly reduce lower back pain. Similarly, specific leg strengthening exercises can help those with knee osteoarthritis.
However, it’s essential to remember that exercise alone may not completely eliminate body pain, especially if it originates from an underlying condition that needs medical treatment.
Starting Slow and Building Up
If you’re in pain, it’s crucial to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity. It may feel counterintuitive to move when you’re in pain, but gentle movement can help. Begin with simple stretching exercises and low-impact activities. As your pain level decreases and your strength and flexibility increase, you can gradually incorporate more intense exercises into your routine.
So, can exercise help with body pain? The evidence strongly suggests, yes, it can. But remember, everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Always consult with a healthcare provider or a physical therapist before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have a chronic pain condition.
Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine can improve your overall health and wellbeing and help manage and alleviate body pain. It’s never too late to start on a path to better health through exercise.
About the author: Dr. Frank Adipietro has been helping patients manage pain for over two decades. He brings a compassionate, individualized approach to healthcare and is committed to providing the highest standard of care to his community. He believes in empowering his patients with knowledge and options to manage their body pain effectively.