Exercise – Brain Connection: Pain Relief

Posted on July 30, 2009 by

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So you thought exercise meant pain? 

While there’s some pain that results from exercise (either during or after – called delayed onset) the pain relief benefit from exercise greatly outweighs the pain creation.  This article provides a nice summary of what’s involved and I’ll shout and echo the sentiment that “Moving is what the human body is designed to do”…

http://www.nationalpainfoundation.org/articles/11/reaping-the-benefits-of-exercise?PHPSESSID=0e91394ee648b212802586b2a34ddd63

Mixing aerobic, strength (anaerobic) and flexibility are the key – one type alone will not accomplish it. 

  • Aerobic exercise from running or cycling or aerobics classes help fuel that authentic wonder working tonic called endorphins.  From Medicine.net “Endorphins are manufactured in the brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of the body. They are released in response to neurotransmitters and bind to certain neuron receptors (the same ones that bind opiate medicines). Endorphins act as analgesics (diminishing the perception of pain) and as sedatives”
  • Flexibility helps your body correct itself from a generally sedentary lifestyle we have.  If you think about it, sitting at a computer or standing all day on your feet are the most punishing things you can do to your body.  So stretching, yoga and Pilate’s help increase your range of motion
  • Strength training does not mean “you’ll get pumped up” in the “governator” sense.  It does mean you’ll build muscles first and then over time (3-6 months later) your joint strength.Consider strength training your body’s natural ibuprofen. 

I’ve seen the benefits of exercise increase as I age or struggle with some minor chronic pain issues.  I have a flaky almost non existent thyroid that presented itself in 2001.  A 2 mile run felt like I was at mile 20.  It didn’t add up.  After a diagnosis and proper meds – Levoxyl rocks – I was back on my way.  However by focusing too much on running I would find myself fatiguing.  As I’ve mixed in a heavy triathlon dose and kept my strength training year round, I’ve noticed a much greater improvement in pain management.  Again, my pain management is very minor and I empathize with those who have arthritis or fybromyalgia or Lyme disease.  I’ve also seen that blending in healing aerobic activity of swimming and cycling helps with the body pounding nature of running (in a future blog I’ll share some secrets on how to make it less body pounding beginning with “get off your heals and onto the balls of your feet”).  My next step is improving my flexibility. 

Now further testifying to the benefit of exercise, I’ve felt the old body aches more if I’m away from some serious workouts for 4-5 days (lets say traveling).  The lower back creaks, feet hurt, etc. 

Please do share what you’ve found – whether you’ve exercised all your life, its been a few months or you’re just beginning.

Next up – overcoming the Pain from Exercise.