A lot of people think of yoga when it comes to flexibility and mental well being but they forget its usefulness when it comes to conditioning the muscles and helping with chronic pain and conditions like arthritis, firbomyalgia, migraines, and more.
Most people fail to see the link between chronic pain and yoga because they look at pain through too narrow a lens. Pain is not only a result of physical injury and scars but there is a mental and emotional component that must also be treated. In fact, chronic pain has been described as a “mind-body experience” and using “yoga’s toolbox” you can find “true relief from pain and begin to reclaim your life.”
One benefit of yoga is you can practice it at whatever fitness phase you are in. A typical session lasts between 45 to 90 minutes but you can benefit from 10 to 20 minute sessions. You can also do modified versions of positions from a chair or sometimes lying down if you are recovering from pain or illness. While it is important to push ourselves it is also key to listen to our bodies and make the exercises work best for us. Even simply doing the breathing and meditation practices can be helpful for our mental and physical health.
In a recent study they found that for “313 people with chronic low back pain, a weekly yoga class increased mobility more than standard medical care for the condition. Another study published at nearly the same time found that yoga was comparable to standard exercise therapy in relieving chronic low back pain”
If you think about how addictive and destructive some pain related drugs can be working to find solutions like yoga for chronic pain is very important. They key is working with the ”protective pain response” of your body. This is the place in the brain that tells you of a physical threat- a burn, torn muscle or dangerous condition nearby. “Emotion-processing areas of the brain get the message, triggering a wide range of reactions, from fear to anger. Combined your thoughts and emotions about the physical sensations of pain make up the suffering component of the full pain experience.”
Therefore, if we can stop some of these emotional triggers we can stop the brain from registering painful threat signals and feel better. A lot of this progress starts with mindful breathing and positive affirmations. In addition, these yoga poses can be helpful:
- Hand yoga- open and close your hands while circling your wrists. Keep the movement going while opening your arms out to the side moving your arms all the way up to your shoulders
- Foot yoga- rock your feet backward and forward coming all the way up to your toes and back to your heels
- Seated twist- take one hand behind you and the other hand to your opposite knee. Inhale and exhale while turning toward the hand behind you
- Shoulder and neck soother- this is simply bending your neck side to side while exhaling and inhaling back and forth.
- Modified downward-facing dog- put your hands on a chair at waist-height. Then step back so that your arms are extended and your hips are over your ankles. Press down on the balls of your feet stretching your legs reaching through to your heels
Remember doing these exercises should not increase your pain in any way. If you are feeling more pain than you are probably pushing yourself too hard. Baby steps!
The Zim’s line of pain relief products can help you along with yoga to deal with your pain in healthy natural ways. They make it easy to get to those hard to reach areas and to get comfort from natural ingredients like arnica and aloe vera.
Do you enjoy yoga? Has it helped you with your chronic pain? We would love to hear your story in the comments. Thank you!