With a new year comes a fresh start, and it’s common to make a few resolutions focused on self-improvement. A YouGov survey found that exercise tops the list of most common 2018 resolutions.
Chances are that after a holiday season filled with lots of eating and drinking, you’re thinking about getting back into shape. But you might be worried about that mild—but consistent—pain that you put off for the past six weeks.
However, a safe and careful workout regimen can actually relieve your pain symptoms. Exercise is a known endorphin trigger, so a good workout sends feel-good chemicals throughout the body, which boosts your mood and decreases pain. Strengthened muscles remove pressure from the aching parts of your body and improve mobility and circulation. Movement can also reduce inflammation in your nerve tissue and limit the need for medications.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you should always receive proper guidance before beginning an exercise program. Think of your workout as any other health prescription. A qualified health professional should develop a tailored treatment for your needs. Talk with your doctor first about finding an expert to help you create a comprehensive program that works the whole body.
It’s best to strive for a balanced program that includes all of these training exercises:
- Walking or other light aerobic exercise brings oxygen and nutrition to your muscles to keep them healthy while rebuilding stamina, boosting energy, and reducing stiffness and pain.
- Stretching at least once a day helps increase flexibility and improve range of motion, which will ease everyday movement. Stretching after a few warmups during your workout may also help you to tolerate training better.
- Strength training with light weights will improve tone and strengthen your muscles.
Plus, studies show strength training can help treat depression.
- Yoga—specifically a gentle combination of postures, breathing, and meditation—reduces the physical and psychological symptoms of chronic pain. It also helps build endurance and energy and improves sleep and concentration.
Once you get into your routine, you should start slowly and gradually increase your efforts as you gain strength, flexibility, and confidence. Be patient and do not try to push your body to the limit. Too much activity will make pain worse and strain muscles. Try to exercise every day, but remember to move at your own pace. If you’re working out with a class, don’t worry about keeping up. You will be able to do more on some days than others.
Exercise is always just one option when dealing with pain. If you don’t feel any relief after a couple of weeks, talk with your doctor about other noninvasive pain management techniques.
Most importantly, you need to stick to the routine once you establish it. Your health and comfort is important, and this is not a New Year’s resolution that you should let slide.