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It is estimated that around 20% of adults suffer from chronic pain globally and 10% are diagnosed with chronic pain each year.

Chronic pain conditions can interfere with all aspects of daily life, often leaving the sufferer fatigued after the simplest of activities, resulting in frustration, withdrawal and often depression. Often chronic pain sufferers have a cycle of on a good pain day doing too much so that on the following day they are completely wiped out and unable to do anything. Unfortunately, then the belief of “I can’t do that as it causes pain” quickly sets in. The problem then is that the sufferer then restricts their movements and activities due to the pain, but lack of movement can then cause pain to increase. Too much rest can be detrimental to overall health, with muscle wasting, joint instability as well as weight gain and poor sleep.

The role of exercise:
Exercise in management of chronic pain is something that is often suggested but very often is not carried out. The natural reaction is to shy away from exercise, concerned the exercise will make things worse and exacerbate their pain. While pain may be higher initially, as the body gets used to the new movements, in the longer term it has been proven to help and even reduce pain and the need for high dose medication, as well as the overall health benefits that exercise has.

Regular exercise not only increases endorphins, which make you feel good, but it also:

Improves brain health – which helps with anxiety and depression, as well as pain perception or sensitivity around pain.

Strengthens bones and muscles – which increases flexibility, reducing the stiffness in joints.

Improves sleep – which helps the body to rest and restore itself.

Reduces fatigue and builds stamina – which increases productivity.

Helps with weight loss – which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and some cancers.

Where to start
If the sufferer has never exercised before, or it has been a long time since they have done any exercise, it is sensible to start off slowly. Trying to run a marathon straight away is not a great idea. Exercising can be in both the form of cardio and strength training. Start off with gentle walks, walking in a swimming pool, swimming a few lengths and gradually build this up. Invest in a personal trainer who can manage and advise what exercises are best for you and your condition. The important thing is to just keep moving.

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London Osteoporosis Clinic,
HCA the Shard,
32 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9BS
T: 020 7193 7867
E: elizabeth@youoptimised.com