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Decoding the Relationship Between Exercise and Pain Management

Introduction: Hi everyone! Welcome back to JK Pain Rehab. Today, we're delving into a topic that's often discussed but not always fully understood – the role of exercise in pain management. We all recognize the numerous benefits of exercise, but how does it specifically help in managing pain? To answer this, we need to take a closer look at how exercise influences our nervous system, the headquarters of pain.



Misconception: Many people believe that getting stronger means experiencing less pain. While there's some truth to that, it's not always the case. If this were true, athletes would never feel pain, and toddlers or the elderly would constantly experience it.


Exercise from the perspective of improving the nervous system: Exercise undoubtedly enhances musculoskeletal function – improving fitness, flexibility, strength, and motor control. However, these improvements don't always directly correlate with a reduction in pain. Pain is complex, as we discussed in our previous video. Even when pain appears to improve, it might not be solely because of increased muscle strength. More likely, you've built a tolerance to pain through repetitive, long-term exposure to a movement coupled with a positive mindset.

Then what is the best exercise for my pain? Interestingly, there's still uncertainty about the best type of exercise for specific musculoskeletal pain conditions in the literature. Core exercises, for example, were once highly recommended for low back pain in the past, but recent research suggested they might provide short-term benefits but didn't differ significantly from general exercises in the long run.




Exercise for your nervous system: In our pain clinic, we design individualized exercises that help improve nervous system functioning following discussions with patients. For example, we consider whether the exercise program improves an individual's mood, sleep, motivation, cognition, memory, and various other factors. To decide on exercise, questions to ask yourself are: Does the exercise bring you joy? Can you stick to it consistently for maximum neuroplasticity? Does it positively impact your sleep? We also consider if the exercise is goal-oriented and task-specific. For instance, if your goal is to travel overseas, then tasks required to reach the goal include walking and carrying. Therefore, your exercise should contain these elements. In this way, you will be more motivated to achieve your goal. Furthermore, exercises involving both physical movement and mental engagement, such as dancing, martial arts, or learning/education after exercise, could help improve cognition and memory.


Summary: Remember, everyone's pain is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Perhaps the key to finding the right exercise for your pain lies within you. Healthcare professionals guide you to reach your goal and help you stay on track, but the answers might be within yourself. I hope this video sheds some light on the connection between exercise and pain management. If you found it helpful, please subscribe, like, and share. Your support means the world to us. See you next time on JK Pain Rehab!

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