Being physically active is incredibly important for everyone. Your blood circulates better, you improve lung function, and your body starts releasing any harmful toxins that may have been built up. There are so many benefits, and society is quick to shame anyone who may say they “cant exercise” but context is important. Millions of Americans suffer from varying degrees of chronic pain. And chronic pain almost always impedes and can even halt any type of physical activity. The pain cycle follows as: first you feel the pain, then your muscles tense, you become stiff and become inactive. This inactivity inevitably weakens your body, then your functioning decreases, and then you ability for physical activity is limited. Your body and mind both become stressed from the source of the pain and what would appear to be an obvious remedy.
Many people who suffer from chronic pain still attempt to exercise. What is important is to know the limits of your body, and what methods work best for you, based off of your condition. Exercising has demonstrated notable benefits for people with chronic pain and autoimmune disorders. It reduces depression, increases your energy, and can improve your range of joint movement. But research also shows that the physical stress of working out can also trigger and aggravate symptoms of chronic pain. Physical activity has the brain release cortisol hormones through out the body, which can trigger a pain flare up. The important thing is to tailor your workouts to match your body’s chronic pain instead of placing an enormous amount of stress. Changing your workout from vigorous cardio to yoga can make a world of difference. Being physically low impact, yoga allows the body to improve range of motion, encourages weight loss, and helps with emotional stability. If traditional yoga also triggers pain flare ups, another option would be micro-yoga. Micro-yoga is simply yoga that does not mimic the traditional length of the exercises or an established pattern. Simply, swap out an hour of stretches to five minutes of stretches. Take five minutes bursts through out the day to complete the asana (stretches) when you can. If you feel your hips are tight, you can take a few minutes to do the pigeon stretch. And something simple like having a winding down sequence of stretches in the evening have proven beneficial. Based on your chronic condition, your body may react negatively to an hours long yoga work out. But breaking it down, and inserting it in small bursts through out the day may prove to be more beneficial than just one extended stretch.
Patients who experience chronic illnesses should always attempt to remain active in order to prevent themselves from falling into the pain-cycle trap. However, they should do exercising and spinal cord stimulation under the supervision of their physicians and pain management doctors who can advise them on what is safe and what is progress.