Fitness and Chronic Pain

If you are one of the roughly one hundred million Americans who suffers from chronic pain, you may be a feeling frustrated by your health condition. After all, pain has an insidious way of affecting nearly every moment of the day. Physically demanding activities are particularly susceptible to the effects of chronic pain, which makes many people hesitant to engage in sports, exercise, and other fitness-related activities.

This is quite unfortunate — because the truth is that you don’t need to let your pain hold you back. There are many ways of overcoming pain and pursuing physical fitness despite your illness or injury. And when you find the fitness activity that works for you, it can be a fantastic way of managing your pain. Not only will the release of endorphins associated with exercise provide a substantial decrease in your susceptibility to pain in the short-term, the gradual strengthening of your muscles, tendons, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system will help you overcome and reduce your pain in the long term as well.

So the first challenge for anyone suffering from chronic pain is to find the physical activity that works best with your body and your health condition. To do this, you may wish to speak with your doctor, or it to browse online health forms, or to seek a local support group for people suffering from your same condition. (More about this last point later.)

A second and equally important challenge, however, is reducing your pain enough to partake in physical activity on a regular basis. Everyone’s body is different, as are our approaches to pain. However, there are a few strategies that work well for many people. These include:

• Keeping a health journal.

Keeping track of your daily activities, your pain levels, your diet, and any other noteworthy details can help you notice trends and patterns, thus making better choices for yourself in the future.

• Reducing stress.

Participating in yoga, adapting your lifestyle, or smoothing over rough relationships are all ways of reducing stress that can lead to decreased pain as well — the link between mind and body is very strong.

• Prioritizing nutrition.

Eating better and improving your nutrition can help you feel better in the short and long-term alike.

• Nixing bad habits.

Alcohol, cigarettes, and even sugary foods can all weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to health problems that will compound with your pre-existing chronic pain.

• Seeking diverse forms of support.

An emotional support system is crucial for everyone — but it can be especially helpful for people suffering from chronic pain. In addition to the conventional support circles of friends and family, seeking a support group designed for people suffering from your condition can be extremely helpful.

• Receiving massage therapy.

Easing cramps and muscle tightness can help reduce pain significantly — and the reduced stress associated with massage therapy can contribute to a better sense of well-being, as well.

To learn more about common injuries, coping with pain, and a wide variety of other important fitness topics, head back to the Top Fitness Magazine home page!