What if there was an easy way to help ease your pain every day that didn’t cost a thing, could be tailored to your needs and could be done in your home? Would you be interested? If so, you need to start stretching for pain relief.
Many people find stretching reduces pain and allows them to be able to do their daily activities, including work. A consistent stretching program can do wonders to increase range of motion and relieve stiffness, thus improving how you feel … and even how you look.
If you are not stretching with chronic pain, here’s how to get started, how stretching can help you and how stretching has helped others like you.
Why Stretching Should be Part of Your Treatment
Research shows that patients with pain chronic conditions benefit from exercise like stretching. And they report that moderate exercise decreases fatigue, pain, stress and symptoms.
“Stretching is an often overlooked component to chronic pain treatment. When performed correctly under the supervision of a physical therapist or other trained medical provider, stretching can be very beneficial for chronic pain sufferers,” says Dr. Jon Yoder, primary care sports medicine physician at OrthoCarolina.
Tips for Stretching for Pain Relief
Keep the following in mind when starting a stretching routine:
- Do at least once a day
- Wear comfortable clothes
- Stretch to cool down, not warm up – so stretch after a walk, not before
- Stretching should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions
- Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may tear muscles
- Hold stretches 30-45 seconds to allow muscles and joints to loosen
- Repeat the stretch, generally 5-10 times
- Stretch your whole body even if you only have pain in one area
- Breathe deeply and relax your body
How does it help? Here are the benefits of stretching:
A regular stretching routine can help lengthen your muscles, increase range of motion in your joints and relieve stiffness. Staying flexible is especially important as we age and our muscles get tighter. Tight muscles hold your body in a restricted position so joints become less mobile which can trigger the pain cycle.
stretching for pain relief improves circulation and blood flow
Stretching improves circulation of blood to the muscles and joints. Increased blood circulation is good for your body as it brings nutrients to cells and removes waste byproducts. The increased blood flow also open up connective tissues so that blood can get to the knotted tissue more easily, which can help alleviate pain.
Aligns your body for better posture
Stretching can help bring alignment to the joints of your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. And when your body is properly aligned inflammation of the joints is reduced and mobility is increased. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest can help keep the back in better alignment and improve posture. And better posture can lessen pain.
Relaxes and relieves stress
As you may well know, pain is exacerbated by stress in the body, and stress in the body can be exacerbated by emotional stress. Stretching helps the mind and body to relax. This encourages more wellness and more healing which in turn triggers more relaxation.
Increases oxygen flow
Breathing deeply and intentionally while stretching will increase your oxygen flow. Oxygen is one of the body’s natural healers. If you ever taken deep breaths to help reduce your stress or pain, you know that increasing oxygen flow throughout your body can help with healing and minimizing pain.
Stretching also helps you maintain a full range of motion through your joints which allows for better balance and coordination. Practicing yoga stretches will increase overall balance and coordination – keeping you more mobile and active.
“Exercise improves your pain threshold. With chronic pain, your pain threshold drops – in other words, it takes less pain to make you feel more uncomfortable. With strengthening, and flexibility exercise, you can improve that pain threshold. Regular physical activity can help you not have to worry so much about the pain and still have energy left over for enjoying recreational activities.
Studies report that moderate exercise can decrease fatigue, pain, and stress. At the same time it improves perceptions of your health, physical function and aerobic fitness,” states Dr. Yoder.
Research has shown that exercise is an essential aspect in the treatment of chronic pain. So consider stretching as one of the natural pain relievers to improve your overall health.
Here’s a video to help you get started. It’s geared towards fibromyalgia patients but provides good basic stretches for anyone.
Make sure to check with your physician before you start any new exercises and work with a pain specialist or physical therapist to develop an exercise plan geared just for you.
Are you ready to begin stretching for pain relief? If stretching is already part of your routine, let us know which stretches or exercises help you the most.
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.