Pain vs. Exercise: Exercise Wins

 

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Buddha once said, “Life is suffering”.  However, for the millions who live with persistent pain, they might tell you that Buddha was an optimist.  After all, those with chronic pain can often feel extreme discomfort and apprehension with everyday tasks such as walking up stairs or carrying household items.  
Despite the apprehension that those with persistent pain often associate with different movements, one of the best things that can be done in response to chronic pain is exercise.  This is consistently the conclusion of expert review panels.  Numerous studies have been published which provide strong evidence that exercise, individualized to one's needs and incorporating flexibility, strengthening and endurance, is effective in reducing persistent pain.1

For example the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society both list yoga as a recommended intervention to manage lower back pain.  Additionally, strengthening programs have been shown to reduce pain in older adults with arthritis.  Furthermore, both cycling and walking have lowered individuals’ pain levels in various studies.1

While Buddha may be right in saying that life is suffering, the question then remains, how will we respond to the pain we experience?  Will one continually limit their daily activities, or will they push their limits with exercise?  

It is true that over-exercising can lead to tissue injury.  However, avoiding exercise can lead to chronic pain.  Exercise, it seems, is a risk we all must take in order to live a life with as little suffering as possible.


Created By:
Tom Fairbank, PT, DPT

Reference:
1. Guccione, A, et al.Geriatric Physical Thearpy. Third Edition.  El Sevier Mosby.  St Louis, MO, 2012.

Photo Credit: http://www.dayfit.com/2010/01/how-to-avoid-the-pain-of-exercise/

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