What are the Negative Effects of Pain? Can I Do Anything Myself?
Pain can have negative effects on your body. Pain can affect your mental well-being, sleep patterns, your relationships, your ability to work, your posture and mobility, and it often affects your lifestyle choices.
Pain may have caused you to avoid exercise, either out of fear of reinjury or because movement makes your pain worse. However, if you build up a regular exercise routine, you can increase your strength, your energy, and your flexibility and it could help you get back to some of the activities that you couldn’t do because of your pain. Exercise programs have been helpful for people with back pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain, and other pain conditions.
- When you start any exercise program, start very slowly. If exercise flares up your pain, don’t give up, but back off slightly (shorter time, and less intense). For some people the guidance of a professional trained to work with chronic pain, such as a physiotherapist, will be important.
- Pacing is a term used to describe the balance between activity and rest, and is
an important aspect of managing chronic pain. While it is very important to begin to exercise and slowly increase your exercise levels, it is equally important to rest between activities, and not push yourself until your pain levels are too high. On days when you feel better, be realistic and don’t overdo it.
- Swimming is helpful for people with pain because it is a gentle, low impact exercise that is easy on sore muscles, joints, and bones. You can start a swimming routine by walking waist-deep in the pool, or by practicing floating on your back. Once you are comfortable in the water, you can try swimming laps. You could also take swimming lessons or water aerobics classes at a community centre. Some are designed specially for people with back pain or arthritis.
- Like other forms of exercise, yoga can cause the release of your body’s own pain killers, called endorphins. A major part of yoga is learning to be aware of your breathing. By practicing smooth, deep yoga-style breathing, you exhale slowly for a longer amount of time. This deep breathing can reduce muscle tension and help you to relax. To learn more about yoga, you can attend a class or try a yoga video or DVD at home.
The ROM (Range Of Motion) Dance Program is a gentle exercise specially developed for people with pain. This program is often an element of specialty pain clinics. It combines exercises to slowly move all joints in your body with a poem that guides you through the exercises, promoting relaxation, imagination, and mental alertness. To order this program you can:
- Go to taichihealth.com and click on ROM Dance Program at the top of the page, or
- Call 1-800-488-4940, or
- Write to Tai Chi Health at 408 S Baldwin St. Madison,
WI USA 53703
Good posture is an important way of preventing pain. Many people develop back and neck pain from working at a computer. Here are some pointers for a good computer workstation:
- An adjustable chair with a back rest that fits to the curve of your spine. Back support pillows are available at pharmacies and can help support your lower back.
- When sitting, your knees should be at an even level with your hips. Feet should rest flat on the floor. If not, a foot rest should be used to bring your knees up to the level of your hips.
- Your hips and shoulders should be in line while sitting. Always face your work with your back straight, not twisted. Your chair should be high enough so that your elbows are at a 90 degree angle and your wrists are in a neutral position,
not bent. Take stretch breaks and walking breaks if sitting in an office chair for long periods of time.
- See our website www.canadianpaincoalition.ca for a video demonstration.