By Dr. Michael J. Cooney, D.C.
If you are living with a chronic disease —neuropathy, diabetes, back or joint pain—thinking about exercise can be the furthest thing from your mind, until you try it.
In moderation, under your doctor’s care and ongoing monitoring, moving your body on a regular basis can do more for pain reduction than any pill or injection, in many cases.
Exercising can quickly lessen symptoms, including chronic pain, and actually improve your overall mental and physical health at the same time. For example, aerobic exercise can improve heart health, energy level, keep your weight in check, or help you to lose weight.
Strength training (resistance training, also called ‘small weight lifting’) can improve muscle strength and endurance, making it easier to perform daily activities, decrease disease-related decline in muscle strength, and provide better stability to your joints.One of my favorite exercises for later in life are flexibility exercises, such as tai chi or yoga, which can expand range of motion; stability exercises may help reduce the risk of falls, a debilitating threat to older people.
How working out can lessen pain for specific conditions
I specialize in treating acute and severe chronic pain. The majority of patients whom I treat that make a regular effort to walk regularly, swim or engage in low-impact fitness programs are rewarded with improved mobility, less depression and less pain.
If you have treatment-resistant chronic pain and are seeking a drug-free non-invasive alternative, learn more about our FDA-cleared Calmare Therapy.
Regular exercise can help insulin more effectively lower your blood sugar level. Physical activity also can help you control your weight and boost your energy.
Keep in mind, physical activity lowers blood sugar. Check your blood sugar level before any activity. If you take insulin or medications that lower blood sugar, you might need to eat a snack before exercising to help prevent low blood sugar.
Regular low-impact aerobic activities can increase strength and endurance in your back and improve muscle function. Abdominal and back muscle exercises (core-strengthening exercises) may help reduce symptoms by strengthening the muscles around your spine.
If you suffer from low back pain, specifically, you might choose low-impact aerobic activities, such as walking and swimming. These types of activities won’t strain or jolt your back.
Joint Issues – Knee Pain, Lower Extremity Pain
Regular movement can lessen pain level, improve flexibility and help maintain muscle strength in affected joints and reduce joint stiffness. The exercises that are best for you will depend on which joints are involved in your medical condition.
In addition, you may be advised to avoid certain fitness efforts during flare-ups.
As a chiropractic physician, I also recommend meeting with a physical therapist (PT) for customized exercises designed for your medical condition and the origin of your pain. Over a series of visits, you can mutually determine what is working and what alternations may need to be made.
Find out more about our state-of-the-art Physical Therapy services customized for your healthcare needs.
Safe and effective exercise begins before your work-out
Before you begin your work-out, it’s so important to take about five minutes to warm up by stretching, lighting bending and getting your body ‘warmed-up.” And invest in a comfortable, fresh pair of sneakers that protect you from shock absorption and offer stability during exercise.
Finally, watch for any signs or symptoms of complications from exercising and start with shorter sessions, lighter weights and build up your time and resistance as you move forward.
My patients tell me one of the biggest benefits of exercising with a chronic disease are the mental health benefits—getting outside, being more social, and enjoying the benefits of those endorphins that boost your mood and overall frame of mind.
Living with a chronic disease is tough, to be sure. But don’t let it rule your life. Find ways, such as exercising, to elevate your everyday quality of life. While the disease can be confining at times, you are still in charge, and there is a whole world out there waiting for you to enjoy it.
Trust your pain management to a holistic team of highly experienced specialists
At Rutherford Allied Medical Group, we’ve been helping New Jerseyans and New Yorkers in pain for more than 30 years. If you are battling acute or chronic pain from injury or disease, reach out to our team of rehabilitative physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists and alternative medicine specialists to customize a treatment plan which will overcome your pain and get you back to enjoying your life quickly and safely.
Call our friendly team at (201) 933-4440. We are conveniently located on Union Avenue in historic Rutherford, NJ, Bergen County. We offer evening and Saturday appointments.