The Pain Toolkit Quiz

#8 Stretching and Exercise

Many people with pain fear exercise in case it causes more problems. However this is not true.

Regular stretching and exercising actually decreases pain and discomfort. It prepares the body for other activities. It can strengthen weak muscles and you will also feel better for it.

Remember to start slowly and build up or increase your stretching and exercising. Its not as hard as you think.

If you are in pain, remember that unfit and under used muscles feel more pain than toned ones. Talk with your physiotherapist or fitness coach about an individually tailored stretching and exercise programme that you could can work on steadily and safely.

This will help you build your confidence, muscle and joint strength. Remember that swimming (or just walking up and down in the pool) is also a low impact exercise and is good for you if you have join problems.

15 reasons why stretching and exercising (don’t forget swimming and walking) is good for you:

Helps to improve and maintain good overall health

  • Increases strong cardiovascular system - heart, lungs and blood vessels
  • Increases muscle strength
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increases endurance and stamina
  • Increases natural pain killers (endorphins) in the bodys nervous system to help control pain
  • Helps with weight control
  • Helps to improve quality of sleep
  • Helps balance and co-ordination
  • Reduces fatigue and increases energy
  • Reduces muscular tension, stress and depression
  • Helps combat depression and anxiety
  • Helps maintain a positive outlook
  • Helps to prevent constipation
  • Can be sociable

Drinking water

Water is essential for a healthy life so drinking plenty of water is important for everyone. Its even more important if you are taking part in physical exercise, so make sure you keep properly hydrated before, during and after exercising.

What The Experts Say

Pete Says:
I used to think exercise could cause more problems. I was wrong. When I attended the pain management programme I was I shown how to stretch and exercise properly and within a matter of weeks, my pain began to decrease. Today, I stretch and exercise everyday 356 days of the year. View the video here for more about stretching and exercising.
Frances Says:
When persistent pain hits the body for months and years on end, you may not understand how unfit you have become. It is not your body’s fault or yours. It can happen despite your best efforts, setbacks and tiredness and side effects of medication. However we know that small amounts of regular stretching and movements helps fitness, balance and the heart and mind gradually work better. One stretch in a different part of the body each hour is 12 stretches a day!! It tells the body and mind to manage pain better, release some more opioids, reduce the stress in it. If you struggle then like Pete says ask for help from your support team or clinical team. Perhaps explore Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates with a kindly coach or trainer who understands how to support your pacing with it. These have been shown clinically to improve, balance, fitness, concentration, lessen low mood and anxiety.
Bronnie Says:
Mini exercise "snacks" of five minutes every hour or so can be a great way to oil the joints. Don't forget that we were built to move, and every time we do we're exercising! Think of everything you do as an opportunity for your body to get lubricated. If it's hard to get enthusiastic about "exercise" put some music on and just groove.
Linda Says:
I've been able to regain some of my mobility and reduce pain through exercise. After a couple of falls last year I lost confidence and became less active. Walking on the treadmill at the gym (ignore the runner next to you) and joining a Nordic walking group (where we walk with poles) has given me some of that confidence back.
Mike Says:
Motion is lotion! Exercise is one of the best medicines known to mankind. It's helpful to think about starting easy and building slowly and, when you're not feeling great, think about beginning by moving parts of your body that feel happy to move. Here's a wonderful video to show movement is about having fun!
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