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Best types of exercise for Pain Relief

Exercise for conditions like low back pain is a very important part of getting relief.


Dr Ben Matheson DC ChiropractorBy Dr. Ben Matheson, D.C

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Squat Exercise for lower back pain

 

The year 2017 has arrived with a flurry (pardon my pun) of activity and news. There are new headlines about the world, weather events all over, and Beyoncé is pregnant with twins! While most of us resolve to exercise more, it is easy to get sidetrack. There are plenty of good reasons to exercise. Today, we will discuss just one, the analgesic (or pain relief) benefits of exercise.

Exercise for conditions like low back pain is a very important part of getting relief from low back pain. In my last blog, I mentioned that exercise-induced pain relief is a great reason to do core exercises everyday. In 2012, Kelly M. Naugle, and colleagues reviewed the studies that have been performed in this area. The difference between different types of exercises in asymptomatic populations, and clinical populations. We understand that exercises, like core exercises for low back pain, have a pain relief benefit, but we want to have a better understanding of what exercise works best under certain circumstances.

1 – AEROBIC EXERCISES

Aerobic exercises often include cycling, running/walking on a treadmill, or stepping. This type of exercise for pain, like low back pain, knee pain or neck pain, has been shown to have a moderate effect on pain threshold and intensity. Moderate to high-intensity exercises at a duration longer than 10 minutes was shown to work the best for pain relief. This area of study of exercise for pain relief is considered limited by a lower number of studies and requires more research. A great example of this type of exercise for low back pain is walking programs that have shown to improve low back pain.

2 – ISOMETRIC EXERCISES

Isometric exercise (where the muscle is loaded, but the joint does not move) has been shown to have a moderate to large pain reducing effect both during and following the exercises. The best effects seem to come from lower intensity contractions, held for longer periods of time. The effect of the exercises seem to be limited to the region of muscle contraction. For example, if you have low back pain and perform isometric exercise of the lumbar erector spinal musculature, the pain relief effect of the exercise will be limited to the area. Therefore, isometric exercises for pain relief should be targeted to the areas of pain. An example of this type of exercise for low back pain would be a side-plank.

There are a couple ways you can do a side plank.

3 – DYNAMIC RESISTANCE EXERCISES

Dynamic resistance exercise has been studied the least of the group. An example of these exercises is 10 repetitions of 75% of a 1 repetition maximum effort. Effects from this type of exercise appear to be large, even though there are not many studies looking at this area. For this reason, it has been difficult to identify best practices for use of this type of exercise. A great example of this type of exercise for low back pain would be a weighted squat.

Based on research in this area, more studies should be done, and more are forthcoming. The important underlying message is that exercise can provide pain relief. The benefits of each type of exercise underscores the importance of finding the right exercise for each individual. Seeing the pain-relief benefits can help many people in pain make the transition from passive coping mechanisms to active coping mechanisms, which can lead to overall improved outcomes when dealing with an injury like low back pain.