When you have pain, it’s easy to think that more rest is your best solution to feeling better. Especially since motion can be one of the reasons behind your soreness. While too much or the wrong type of activity can exacerbate some injuries, the truth is the opposite for almost every other cause of pain.  

Movement is a major contributor to keeping your mobility. According to the CDC, regular physical activity is one of the most essential things for your health. Physical activity reduces pain by building muscle strength and flexibility and reducing fatigue, pain sensitivity and inflammation – causing you to feel better overall and enjoy being more active.

Recovery from Surgery or Injury

If you’ve recently had surgery, your doctor will encourage you to move as soon as possible. This gives you so many benefits! It helps your circulation, keeps your muscles strong, improves your breathing and keeps your bowel movements regular, to name a few. Walking is imperative after surgery for preventing post-op complications. As an added bonus, becoming mobile as soon as possible after surgery or healing from an injury prevents emotional stress, which has its own host of benefits.

Conversely, choosing not to walk or increase activity after surgery leads to a higher risk of lung problems and pneumonia and decreases your ability to fight off other infections. Remaining sedentary means you’re more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis, which leads to blood clots. 

When you start moving will depend on what type of surgery or injury you’re healing from, but as soon as you’re able to walk without risking a new injury, be prepared to start walking for your health.

Help for Chronic Pain

It’s been proven in numerous studies that chronic pain sufferers receive many benefits from regular physical activity and exercise. Movement helps reduce pain and improve function for people with musculoskeletal pain, even osteoporosis. It’s integral to rehabilitation from fibromyalgia, chronic low back pain and myofascial pain. Activity relieves symptoms from chronic pain by reducing fatigue, building muscle strength and flexibility and decreasing pain sensitivity and inflammation– the root cause of systemic pain.

Other Benefits of Daily Movement

Less pain every day is a significant enough reward for being as active as possible, but there are even more benefits. You can gain improvement from depression or anxiety and enjoy higher moods since regular exercise balances the way your body processes and uses serotonin. Being physically active also helps improve your brain health, manage your weight, reduce the risk of many diseases, strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your capacity for everyday activities.

Types of Movement To Reduce Your Pain

Medical research has shown that a combination of walking and other weight-bearing exercises can reduce lower back pain, improve strength, increase flexibility, and repair uneven sleep patterns. Wondering how to get started moving?

Daily Walks

Maybe you’ve already heard that walking 30 minutes daily is the best way to maintain health. It’s true. Start with a half hour each day of walking, all at once or broken up into two or three sessions as your body permits. Over time, increase your timing or try walking steeper inclines and stairs. Improved mobility comes with extending your limits, which can also add fun challenges and a sense of accomplishment as you reach new goals.

Walking increases muscle tone and strength, especially in your abdomen and ankles. It improves body systems such as gastrointestinal, genitourinary, pulmonary and urinary tract functions. You’ll notice better coordination, posture and balance and a boost in your joint flexibility, especially in your knees, hips and ankles.

Indoor or outdoor walking– which is better? That doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re doing it daily. 

Here are five simple and fun ways to get your steps in: 

  • Treadmill or elliptical machines
  • Walk around the block/your neighborhood
  • Jogging or running
  • Stair-climbing or stair machines
  • Hiking

Other Types of Beneficial Exercise

While walking is the best way to get going, adding in other movements will have an even more significant impact on your health. Along with fending off osteoporosis, weight-bearing exercises protect your joints and increase your coordination, balance and flexibility, reducing further injury with activity. 

Keep in mind that all the benefits listed aren’t instantaneous, but you will see an improvement in about three months. And at the very least, training two to three days per week is needed to maximize muscle growth.

Here’s a list of popular weight-bearing exercises you may want to try:

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Basketball
  • Strength-training exercises
  • Weight machines and free weights
  • Exercise bands
  • Core exercises
  • Tai chi

To avoid further pain and injury or slowing your progress, be sure to use proper form with any of these exercises or activities. Consider asking for assistance from a personal trainer or fitness coach.

In Summary

Too much rest from injury or post-surgery will reduce your ability to move and eventually cause more damage to your muscles, bones, joints and circulation. It also increases stress and depression. And the cycle of chronic, debilitating pain will continue. Get safely moving as soon as possible to reduce your pain and increase overall mobility and physical health. It’s essential to living a better life! 

We Can Help You Each Step of the Way

You don’t have to do this alone. It’s our goal to help you feel better and live pain-free. Here at the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, we created our Better U program just for you. Our expert team of physical therapy doctors, athletic trainers and physical therapist assistants will develop and guide you through the movements you need to start feeling better.

Better U is for anyone experiencing chronic or acute pain, a lack of strength or mobility, or a nagging injury that causes discomfort. We offer personalized 1-on-1 coaching, wellness strategies and recovery techniques to truly support you and help reduce your pain while restoring and maintaining your ability to keep moving. Our goal is to keep you motivated to reach your goals and be the healthiest you can be.

Check out the Better U program here and get moving today.