Acute pain begins immediately, lasts for a short time and goes away as soon as your body heals. There are many causes for acute pain and it can also follow after an injury.
Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and lasts beyond the body’s usual healing time. It is often described as pain lasting for more than three months. Chronic pain causes many problems including fatigue, anxiety, depression and it affects the quality of life of an individual. It is important to remember that there are lots of factors that could affect pain including age, physical fitness, stress or anxiety and things like heavy physical work.
In the past, people with chronic pain were told to rest. However, general advice now is to keep active. Exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving physical function in patients with chronic pain. It improves strength, flexibility and fitness, and it provides an immediate improvement in mood and anxiety. Exercise is also great for cardiovascular fitness and bone health.
Low back pain is a common problem that is estimated to affect up to 70% of adults. Knowing what causes your pain and which exercises are safe to do is very important when suffering from pain and your physiotherapist can help with that.
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How can Physiotherapy help with pain and exercise?
Your physiotherapist will perform a thorough evaluation to find out what causes your pain. They will then assist with pain management and prescribe the correct exercise programme for you, including strength exercises, endurance exercises and flexibility exercises.
Strength exercises help maintain or increase muscle strength as stronger muscles support and protect joints.
Endurance exercises are healthy for the arteries and heart and may help with swelling in joints.
Flexibility exercises help to keep the joints moving and relieve stiffness.
Points to Remember when exercising with pain
- Talk to your physiotherapist before you begin an exercise programme.
- Remember to listen to your body when exercising or participating in physical activity.
- Start slowly and gradually increase exercise as you gain strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Accept that you will have good days, where you will be able to do more and bad days when your pain might feel worse.
- Set realistic goals and be patient with your progress.
This article was updated by Christa van Eeden from our Tygervalley branch of Lamberti Physiotherapy. If you are worried about exercising with pain and are not sure what process to follow, call Christa or your regular physiotherapist to assist.
- Geneen et al: Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews (Review) 2017.
- Kanas et al: Home-based exercise therapy for treating nonspecific chronic low back pain 2018.