Those who experience chronic pain may feel discouraged from exercising because they are concerned that pushing themselves too far will result in a flare up of their pain. This can lead to habitual aversion to exercise that becomes a lifestyle. This sedative lifestyle is counterproductive because exercise can actually help to reduce the effects of chronic pain. Research has shown a correlation between chronic pain and a decrease in neuroplasticity, the brain’s physical ability to form new neural connections. Exercise can increase the brains ability by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. As this improves, the brain is more equipped to overcome chronic pain.
Exercise can also help one deal with chronic pain by lubricating joints and strengthening muscles, which can allow someone to return to normal function in a way they might not have been able to previously. Regaining this freedom helps improve self-image and optimism, which combat the depression that sometimes comes with chronic pain. Some of the best workouts for those with chronic pain includes walking, swimming, stretching and yoga. Light exercise may cause some soreness or pain during or after the workout, but it is important to know this isn’t worsening your condition, your body just needs to adjust to the increase in activity. Though exercise isn’t necessarily a complete “cure” for chronic pain, it can be an excellent tool to minimize its negative effects.