A recent study revealed that more than 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is caused by a number of things, including diseases, injuries, and genetic disorders. Older people are more likely to experience chronic pain than younger folks because of the various diseases and conditions related to aging. Anyone who’s suffering from chronic pain can perform the following exercises to help find a bit of relief.
1. Lower Back Stretch
As people age, their muscles shrink and lose mass. As a result, their muscles are often tighter and are more prone to injuries. One muscular exercise to alleviate lower back pain, a common long-term condition, is the Knee to Chest exercise. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet flush to the floor. Bend your right knee toward your chest and hold that position for 15 to 30 seconds, lower your leg back down, and repeat the movement with your left knee. Perform up to four repetitions with each leg. This can help to loosen up the muscles and the back and relieve pain that develops from walking and standing.
2. Neck Stretches
Neck pain is common amongst chronic pain sufferers and is most often caused by prior injuries. Soreness and stiffness can set in, especially when sleeping in odd positions or keeping the head in one position for too long. Stretching the neck muscles can expand and preserve the neck’s range of motion and elasticity. It also keeps the neck muscles more flexible and less prone to injuries. Start by turning your head to the left and holding that position for five to ten seconds. Now, move your head to the right and hold that position for the same duration. Do five repetitions each way. Next, nod your head forward and hold it for five seconds. Move your head back while looking up at the ceiling. Repeat both movements five times, then relax. Be careful not to force anything, as your neck muscles will loosen up as you go through the repetition.
3. Chest Stretch
Injuries from heavy lifting, or even spinal injuries that have limited a person’s movement can cause pain in all of the muscles around the chest and shoulders. Sitting at a desk can even cause this pain if posture isn’t perfect. One way to relieve the pain is to stretch all of the big muscles in that area. While seated or standing, hold both arms up to a square as if you’re a football goalpost, keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor. Move your arms forward to touch your elbows and forearms together (or as close as you can get) in front of you, and hold it for five seconds. Next, move your arms backward as far as you can, opening up your chest and closing the gap between your shoulder blades slightly. Keep your back as straight as you can to avoid any pinching. Do five to 10 total repetitions of each movement.
4. Shoulder Stretch
People often experience pain in multiple muscles, especially around the shoulders, neck and traps, depending on the cause. Car accidents, recreational injuries, and surgeries often cause discomfort all around the neck and shoulders. If you’re experiencing pain toward the back of your shoulder, try moving one arm across your body and holding your opposite elbow for a ten-count. Repeat with the other arm and perform five to 10 total repetitions. This pulls the shoulder blade laterally to take stress off the muscles and tissues around it. You can also stretch both at the same time by placing your hands flat on the edge of a desk or counter with your arms extended, seated or standing, and slowly bending at the waist to straighten your upper body. This will stretch the back and shoulders, and is a great stretch to improve the range of motion for your arms.
You can do these stretches daily to help alleviate minor pain and increase your flexibility. Your muscles can naturally loosen up and be less fatigued. However, always check with your doctor before commencing an exercise routine, especially with past injuries, and keep up with publications like Chronic Pain Daily that can give you information about managing chronic pain.