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  • Writer's pictureMark Macdonald

EXERCISE FOR PAIN

Exercise can be beneficial for managing and reducing various types of pain, although the mechanisms through which it works can vary depending on the specific type of pain and its underlying causes. Here are some ways in which exercise can help alleviate pain:

  1. Release of Endorphins: Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Endorphins can help reduce pain perception and improve your overall sense of well-being.

  2. Improved Blood Circulation: Physical activity increases blood flow, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to muscles and tissues. This enhanced circulation can help reduce muscle tension and promote healing in damaged tissues, which may alleviate pain.

  3. Strength and Flexibility: Regular exercise can help strengthen muscles, improve joint flexibility, and enhance overall physical function. This can be particularly helpful for individuals with chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, by reducing stress on joints and supporting better movement.

  4. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise can reduce the strain on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. This can alleviate pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis and back pain.

  5. Pain Gate Control Theory: According to the gate control theory of pain, engaging in physical activity can stimulate nerve fibers that transmit non-painful sensations, effectively "closing the gate" to pain signals. This can help reduce pain perception.

  6. Improved Mood and Stress Reduction: Chronic pain is often associated with emotional distress and stress, which can exacerbate the perception of pain. Exercise can help reduce stress and improve mood, making pain more manageable.


7. Enhanced Joint Lubrication: Certain types of exercise, like low-impact activities and stretching, can promote the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates joints. This can reduce friction and discomfort in joints.

8. Reduced Inflammation: Some studies suggest that regular exercise may help reduce chronic inflammation, which is a common factor in various types of pain, including pain related to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

9. Better Sleep: Regular exercise can improve the quality of sleep, and better sleep can, in turn, help reduce pain perception and improve the body's ability to cope with pain.


It's important to note that the type and intensity of exercise should be tailored to the individual's specific condition and fitness level. Overexertion or inappropriate exercise can exacerbate pain, so a personalised approach is essential. Our physios will help tailor an exercise program for your condition and help you get back to doing the activities that you love.


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