Chronic pain affects millions. It’s linked with “lower quality of life, greater medical spending, and significant economic costs” (Medical News Today, 2023), often hindering our motivation to exercise. In reality, however, working out is one of the best tools to improve your mobility and energy while decreasing stiffness and pain.

In-home and virtual personal trainers work with clients living with chronic pain every day! Whether it’s back pain, osteoarthritis, or any number of common conditions, a constant ache can disrupt your daily life and dampen your spirits. Medications and therapies can be a supportive aid, but exercise is a natural remedy that fosters longevity, confidence, and independence. Here are some of the ways exercise can provide relief and benefit for sufferers of chronic pain.

HOW CAN EXERCISE HELP WITH CHRONIC PAIN?

ENDORPHINS

One of the greatest reasons for exercising with chronic pain is to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Endorphins bind to opioid receptors in your brain and spinal cord, blocking pain signals and diminishing your perception of discomfort. This effect provides immediate pain relief while also contributing to long-term pain management.

Endorphins also promote a sense of well-being and relaxation, further alleviating the psychological distress often associated with chronic pain conditions. The sense of accomplishment and empowerment derived from overcoming physical challenges – especially with the support of a personal trainer – can also boost your self-esteem and resilience, fostering a positive outlook despite possible health conditions.

CIRCULATION

Regular exercise promotes better circulation, which delivers essential nutrients and oxygen to your muscles and joints. This supports tissue repair and reduces inflammation, a common culprit in many chronic pain conditions. When your circulation is optimized, your blood vessels dilate and foster healing.

FLEXIBILITY & MOBILITY

Improving your flexibility and mobility can help decrease chronic pain by reducing the strain on your muscles and joints, enhancing your range of motion, and promoting proper alignment. When your muscles are tight and inflexible, they can pull on your joints and exacerbate discomfort, particularly in conditions like arthritis or back pain.

For clients with chronic pain, our trainers prioritize exercises that focus on stretching and mobility to release tension, loosen tight muscles, and improve overall joint function. This allows for smoother, more fluid movement, alleviating the stiffness and rigidity commonly associated with chronic pain. Better mobility will also improve your functional fitness, allowing you to perform activities of daily living with greater efficiency and reducing the overall impact of pain on your life.

STRENGTH

Though strength training “may be the last thing a person living with pain wants to do, exercise could be a critical element to recovery” (Time Magazine, 2023). Strength training addresses several underlying factors contributing to discomfort and chronic pain, as building strength in the muscles surrounding sore joints can provide better support and stability.

This reduces strain and pressure on the joints themselves. Strength training also helps to improve your overall body mechanics and posture, reducing your risk of muscular imbalances and poor movement habits that can lead to pain and injury. In-home and virtual personal trainers always assess clients’ body mechanics and posture before designing an appropriate exercise plan.

OUR TIPS

Exercise to relieve pain isn’t limited to high-intensity workouts. Even low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or yoga can yield significant benefits. The key is to find enjoyable and sustainable activities to build a positive relationship with movement. That said, it’s crucial to approach exercise for chronic pain with mindfulness and moderation.

Pushing through excessive pain or overexerting yourself can lead to further injury. Always consult with a doctor or physical therapist before beginning a new exercise program. These allied health professionals can work with your in-home or virtual personal trainer to craft a training regimen that’s both safe and effective for you. While exercise alone may not solve chronic pain, “movement is desirable and therapeutic for almost anyone experiencing chronic pain. But finding the best activities to help you deal with your particular pain may require mixing and matching exercise options, asking the right questions about why you hurt afterward and finding the right trainer or physical therapist” (The New York Times, 2021). Combined with mindfulness, a healthy diet, and stress management techniques, exercise is an integral part of a holistic approach to pain management.

CLOSE

In our modern world of sedentary lifestyles that escalate chronic pain, the power of regular exercise is revolutionary. Embracing movement as a tool for pain relief — both mentally and physically — can transform your quality of life, boost independence, and bolster confidence while dramatically improving your functional longevity. If you have chronic pain and would like some help incorporating exercise into your routine smartly and safely, we’re here for you. We offer in-person training in Toronto, Collingwood, Ottawa & Hamilton and virtual personal training everywhere. First workouts are zero pressure and always free – you can book yours here.