It is incredible listening to all of our clients share how starting a exercise regimen has decreased chronic pain in their joints and muscles, and how it has allowed for better sleep patterns and decreased stress levels.
Our pain receptors are actually our friends, right? They are like fire alarms and car horns. Their job is to warn of us impending danger. However, when the alarms go unattended, or are masked by pain-relieving medicines, this can become a more chronic issue, leading to injury and/or illness. Here are 4 ways that exercise naturally decreases pain.
1. Endоrрhinѕ. Thеѕе аrе сhеmiсаlѕ, produced nаturаllу by our bodies during еxеrсiѕе, to cope with stress and pain. They blосk thе perception оf раin, giving it the label of “The feel good chemical” or “The runner’s high”. Endorphins hаvе a similar еffесt to opiates, likе mоrрhinе and соdеinе, except our body produces natural amounts of it, and can regulate appropriate amounts without addiction.
2. Cortisol. Exercise decreases the amount of cortisol, or stress hormone, in the body. Decreasing stress hormone can also decrease the amount of tension that we hold in our muscles. (I know when i am stressed, i tend to clench my jaw shut without realizing). To take it a step further, cortisol can make you more resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar, leading to other complications like heart disease, and diabetes. So many reasons to keep cortisol levels LOW.
3. Sleep. Rеgulаr exercise helps imрrоvе our abilities to fall asleep, as well as thе quality оf оur rеѕt оnсе wе dо. When cortisol is low, and Endorphins are high, pain and stress in the body decreases. Our nervous system can calm faster, allowing for a better nights sleep.
4. Balance. In the case of our muscles, this pain is letting us know that there is too much pressure being placed on a muscle, muscle group or joint, and relief is needed. Stretching short muscles, strengthening weak muscles and activating inactive muscles can relieve your muscles and joints of pain due to muscle imbalance. Personal Trainers and Massage Therapists are great for locating weak vs overactive muscles and can set you up with a plan to rebalance these groups.
Other things to consider:
After beginning a new exercise regimen, or while pushing yourself on a regular basis, it is common that muscles will feel tired and sore, following the days of your workout. This is often a result of new muscle regeneration. We also like to remind you to listen to your body, as it is the best remedy to avoid injury. Should you feel joint pain, or sharp, stabbing pains during, or after exercise, we recommend seeking a Personal Trainer, or health professional before continuing. As always, we recommend working through pain-free range of motion only to avoid creating new pain.