Is it ok to exercise when pain is present?
This is a contentious issue when discussing exercise for pain relief, particularly in cases of chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a challenging topic in terms of rehabilitation, with exercise having a well-founded role in improving chronic pain, with new literature confirming the importance of exercise in pain management coming out regularly. When discussing chronic pain, it is important to acknowledge a range of factors, including beliefs and fears surrounding pain, previous experiences with pain, motivation, and a person’s knowledge of pain science and pathology/injury.
Chronic pain sufferers often have an increased “threat response” to exercise, with the factors previously mentioned having a major influence on this. Therefore, some exercises can be described as “painful” at the time but can physiologically have a greater benefit to the individuals’ musculoskeletal system. This article proposes that “painful exercises” (that DON’T have potential to cause any damage) can challenge the individual to reconceptualize pain as safe and non-threatening.
This effect can be further enhanced with appropriate pain education and clinical support.
In conclusion, if you suffer from chronic pain, exercises perceived as “painful” (combined with pain education/discussion with your treating health professional) can actually have a greater benefit to your body than non-painful exercises, and this can also help retune your central nervous system to feel these exercises as non-threatening, improving your capacity to exercise and quality of life.
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