Pain Management Exercises for Seniors
Pain Management Exercises for Seniors. The fourth in a series of ten articles based on the book, Pain Management, by Robert Hoffman.
Pain Management Exercises for Seniors. Things you can do to reduce pain
There are many reasons that senior citizens experience physical pain. It could be due to an accident, trauma, or chronic illness. I t can also result from exertion, especially if it is more than the body is currently used to performing.
Many seniors reduce their physical activity and range of motion as they age, and physical effort can cause discomfort or pain. Most people, regardless of their age, want to be as independent as they can be. But this may prove to be difficult for seniors, especially those who are in pain.
Higher Risk for Seniors
Seniors run a higher than average risk of experiencing side effects from all kinds of drugs. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. These medications are not recommended for people with liver, kidney, and heart problems, which are common afflictions for the elderly.
Certain drugs may also interact with the medications that a senior is already on. But all this does not mean that pain cannot be managed. Aside from taking prescription drugs, engaging in pain management exercises could also give the elderly the relief they need.
Preventive Physical Activity
Engaging in physical activities on a regular basis is a proven approach to managing chronic pain and is commonly recommended as a complementary treatment to pharmacotherapy. This is especially so for treating and preventing pain among older adults.
Although preventive physical activities are important, seniors who are suffering from chronic pain won’t be in the mood to exercise. It is hard to be motivated to engage in physical effort when even the thought of it causes pain!
However, refraining from exertion will worsen the problem in the future, so it is important to recognize that today’s discomfort will provide relief in the future. Hard as it seems, think an athlete – “short-term pain for long-term gain!”
The good thing is, there are a few gentle exercises to improve health and lessen the ongoing pain.
People who are suffering from chronic pain can often improve their condition by walking at least half an hour, three to five times a week. Those living with chronic pain may feel that moving will only make the pain worse, but that’s not the case. Researchers say that gentle exercises like walking can help reduce pain by improving the stability of the joints, boosting the body’s natural opioid production, and reducing stress.
Exercises like walking help strengthen the muscles that aid in joint stabilization. They help lubricate the cartilage, which depends on nutrition from movement since it doesn’t have a blood supply. Walking promotes the flow of joint fluid, which distributes nutrients to the cartilage.
Walking can also increase the body’s production of natural opioids, which help decrease pain but without the risk of addiction. It also helps relieves stress, which is a known contributing factor to becoming more sensitive to pain.
Stretching is often overlooked when it comes to managing chronic pain. It can reduce pain, and it also helps the body become more flexible and mobile. Doing it right and regularly can help reduce stiffness and increase the range of motion. It helps improve blood circulation to the joints and muscles. Stretching encourages better joint alignment of the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.
When starting a stretching routine, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. It should be done at least once a day. It should be pain-free and that means the body should not be forced into difficult positions.
Do the stretches slowly and hold them for as long as possible to help the joints loosen up. Stretch the whole body even if the chronic pain is only confined in a single area. Don’t forget to breathe deeply and to relax your body.
Deep Breathing and Relaxation
Relaxation helps recharge the body and calm the mind. It is important for people who are suffering from chronic pain. Pain, whether acute or chronic, puts more tension in the muscles, which results in more pain. This pain tension cycle can be broken by helping the body relax. There are several forms of relaxation, including deep breathing.
Find a warm and quiet place. Make sure you are in a comfortable position and wear comfortable clothes. Listen to your breathing and breathe through your nose. Place your hands over your stomach and feel it rise and fall while breathing. Relax your muscles and start taking slow and deep breaths. As you breathe in, imagine that you are inhaling peace. As you breathe out, imagine you are exhaling the pain and tension away.
Those with arthritis will find it challenging to exercise. Swimming offers pain relief and helps these painful joints to move. Less pain is experienced because water helps take off the weight that puts pressure on the joints. In case swimming is not possible or simply not liked, another option is water aerobics classes.
Many studies have shown that engaging in physical activities can help with pain management among seniors and can also protect them from the development of chronic pain. Any sedentary time that is swapped out for exercise, no matter how light, will be of benefit.
Pain is nature’s warning so it is important to determine what the real causes are. It is imperative to consult a medical professional first before taking any over-the-counter medications or engaging in any pain management program.