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How Stretching Can Help Your Chronic Pain

Posted on Aug 10th 2022

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How Stretching Can Help Your Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain is difficult, but there are many ways you can help manage or even lessen your pain. Stretching is one of the best natural ways you can help relieve chronic pain and aid in healing.

Why Stretching Helps

Our muscles and joints can get stiff and tight as we age, and that tightness and stiffness can make chronic pain feel worse. Stretching helps relieve that stiffness, which in turn relieves pain. Here are a few more things stretching can do for your body:

  • Improve Mobility. Like mentioned above, stretching relieves stiffness in your muscles and your joints. It can increase your range of motion and help your body’s alignment. Having a greater range of motion and helping your body stay properly aligned helps reduce joint inflammation and lessen pain.
  • Relieve Stress. Stress can be a culprit behind many problems with our bodies. When it comes to chronic pain, it’s difficult to not be stressed, but stress can cause our muscles to tighten, increasing discomfort. Stretching helps relieve muscles tension and can help your mind and body relax, promoting healing and lessening pain. Taking deep breaths while stretching maximizes this relaxation.
  • Increase Blood Flow. Stretching helps improve blood circulation. Increased blood circulation helps your body because blood flow brings nutrients and clears away byproducts produced by your cells. Better blood circulation can also open up connective tissue which helps alleviate pain.
  • Get Better Sleep. Relieving stress and pain leads to better sleep at night, which in turns promotes healing. You may find stretching before bed helps you rest better.

How to Stretch

Telling someone to stretch may seem pretty straightforward, but there are right and wrong ways to stretch, especially if you are dealing with chronic pain. If you have chronic pain in your hips, low back, knees or elsewhere, there may be some stretches you should avoid doing because they may harm rather than help. A simple rule of thumb for stretching is: if it hurts, don’t do it. Stretching should relieve pain, not cause it.

This older woman is stretching to help her chronic pain with Chronic Care of Richmond.

Here are a few more tips for incorporating stretching into your life in a safe and healthy way:

  • Stretch at least once a day. To really see the benefits of stretching in your body, try to stretch everyday. You don’t necessarily need to do the same stretches every day, and you don’t need to spend a lot of time stretching. Even a little stretching every day can be beneficial.
  • Make sure your muscles are warm before you stretch. Get your body “warm” before stretching. Take a walk or do another form of exercise first. Stretching “cold” muscles can result in further injury, and it isn’t very comfortable. Once your body is warm, move into stretches slowly and avoid bouncing, which can tear muscles.
  • Take deep breaths and hold your stretch. Aim to hold a stretch for 30–45 seconds so your muscles and joints have time to loosen. Make sure to keep breathing during that time. You may find that as you exhale, you’re able to deepen a stretch.
  • Stretch your whole body. Even if your pain is centered in one location in your body, stretching your whole body is beneficial. Everything in our bodies is connected, and you may be surprised how stretching the front of your quads, for example, can help your lower back feel better.
  • If It Hurts, Don’t Do It. A recap of our No. 1 rule: if it hurts, don’t do it. Forcing your body into an uncomfortable position can worsen pain or cause new problems for your body. Stretching should feel good while you do it, and after.
A happy couple has learned to manage chronic pain with Chronic Care of Richmond.

At Chronic Care of Richmond, we believe your body has the power to heal itself. Stretching is one of many tools you can use on your journey to find relief from chronic pain. If you need guidance on beneficial stretches for your chronic pain, or you’re looking for more information on how to help yourself heal naturally, we can help.

Contact Chronic Care of Richmond today to request a consultation.