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Best Exercises for Chronic Pain

Every person experiences pain at some point in their life. Anything from a headache, sore muscles or joints, or even an injury such as a sprained finger, a bruised knee, or a more serious injury liked a broken bone or fracture. These pains are temporary and go away after some time. Chronic pain is very different. Chronic pain is on-going pain that lasts weeks to months to even years. One of the most effective ways to go about chronic pain movement is to implement some of the best exercises for chronic pain.

Chronic pain can come in different forms for different people. Here are some of the most common types of causes of chronic pain that people experience:

  • Migraines
  • Nerve pain
  • Past injuries, particularly involving the back and knee
  • Past surgeries
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

Chronic pain can range from all levels of pain, including a dull ache up to a burning or shooting pain. There are different things that can aggravate or worsen the pain.

While too much activity and exercise can make the pain worse, a common mistake that people who experience chronic pain often make is they become sedentary and avoid activity of all kind. This can actually make the pain worse by stiffening the muscle and joints around the area in pain. Depending on the kind of chronic pain you may experience, there are certain exercises that are recommended that you do to help you get activity in and improve (or at least reduce) the level of pain you may experience.

Here are some of the best exercises for chronic pain, keeping in mind that before you do any type of activity, you should consult your doctor and get clearance to do these activities.


Walking can be done outside or indoors on a treadmill. Walking is a great activity for increasing the heart rate and gets the blood flowing throughout the body while not being so vigorous and hard on the joints as jogging or other types of activities.


Even walking can be difficult for some patients that experience chronic pain because there still is some impact made, particularly on the knees and feet. Swimming helps take any impact out of the joints by allowing you to be active through the water.

Yoga & Pilates

Yoga and Pilates have a number of benefits to the body including improved breathing and relaxation, as well as building core strength and improving the overall flexibility and stretching off the muscles. The meditative and spiritual experience that many yoga workouts can offer is also helpful in managing everyday stresses and the emotional aspect of managing chronic pain. By strengthening the core muscles, you can help to reduce back pain and help stabilize the body without straining other muscles and joints. This is one of the most effective and best exercises for chronic pain.

Strength Training

When people think of strength training, they get the idea of large bodybuilders lifting weights at the gym. Strength training doesn’t have to be that at all. Strength training can be used to strengthen muscles that are weaker and contributing to chronic pain disorders, such as strengthening the leg muscles around the knee so that the muscles take on more of the stress than the joint. Strength training does not to be a lot of weight either. It can be as simple as doing some exercises that involve using your own body weight.


Stretching has a number of benefits including improving flexibility, reducing stiffness, and increasing range of motion. By doing this, you can take a lot of pressure off certain muscles that take on a lot of strain to support the body and help it in its daily activities. Stretching is highly recommended as a part of your cool down to any activities that you do. This will prevent any further soreness or injury as well.

Everyday Activities

Last, but not least, it is helpful to participate in everyday activities, such as household chores, playing and running around with the kids, gardening, etc. These kinds of activities will not only help keep you staying active, but it will help to continue to keep you involved and staying connected. Chronic pain is not fun and can prevent you from doing these things, so do your best to plan your schedule to do these types of everyday activities. Figure out when you have the most energy and are better off to do these types of activities.

In conclusion, it is helpful to find activities that will allow you manage the chronic pain that you experience and improve the symptoms that you have. As noted above, all activities and exercises should be discussed and approved by your doctor in advance to doing any kind of exercise routine. Being active has other benefits beyond just helping to manage chronic pain, as it can also help you sleep better, manage stress and anxiety, and help naturally make you feel better (thanks endorphins!). These other added benefits to exercise will all have an even greater impact in the battle against chronic pain.

If you have questions about the best exercises for chronic pain and are currently located in Orange County and throughout the greater Southern California area, contact Centers of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine (CRPM) at (714) 909-0136 or online!

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