These Exercises Can Help Relieve Everyday Pain (Plus, Other Tips to Help You Manage It)

Chronic pain can be difficult to manage, but there are ways you can cope and reduce symptoms. Various activities and daily habits can reduce the pain and improve your quality of life. Read on for all the ways you can reduce pain without medication. One simple exercise can reduce daily aches and pains significantly (on page 9).

1. Eat pain-fighting foods

A bunch of oranges

Orange you glad you addressed your pain problems? | Source: iStock

Many foods have proven pain-fighting power. Chocolate’s main ingredient, cacao, contains the “body’s natural amphetamine, phenylethylamine,” which can reduce joint inflammation according to Pain Pathways. Both oranges and coffee are packed with antioxidants that help alleviate inflammation and muscle pain, too. And the omega-3 fatty acid found in wild-caught salmon can help as much as ibuprofen for easing arthritic pain.

Next: Sacrifice your “puffs” in the name of pain.

2. Don’t smoke

Smoking cigrette

Smoking will hurt you more. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Smoking can create circulation problems. When you live with chronic pain, poor circulation can make symptoms worse. If you do smoke, quitting could relieve some of that pain. You want your body in the best physical shape possible in order to manage pain the best way possible. Plus, if you meditate and reduce daily stressors in your life, you may find it easier to quit.

Next: An indulgent way to fight pain

3. Get occasional massages

woman getting a massage

Massages are truly good for your health. | petrenkod/iStock/Getty Images

Massages are not just for people who want to pamper themselves. They can also be a great way to reduce your everyday pain. A massage can relieve tension in your muscles, which can make your overall body feel much better. If you can’t afford a professional massage, ask a partner or friend to give you a massage.

Next: Finding one of these can be a great distraction from chronic pain.

4. Find a distracting hobby

Drawing in adult coloring book

Try coloring to improve your outlook on life. | iStock/Getty Images

When you think about the pain, it hurts more. If you can, try to get yourself involved in a new hobby that is painless but keeps your mind distracted. If moving around is too painful, you may want to avoid taking up any kind of sport. But knitting, drawing, or other hobbies with minimal body movement could be a great way to distract yourself from every day pain.

Next: Mind the pain using your brain.

5. Practice meditation

woman meditating on the beach

Train your brain for your own good. | Kieferpix/iStock/Getty Images

Meditation is the best way to relax your body, making it a great natural remedy for easing everyday pain. Some people feel they can’t meditate, but even a daily, 10-minute meditation can yield results. It can relax the muscles just enough to bring relief. Plus, meditations relax the mind and make you feel more ready to take on your day.

Next: Limit this to limit the pain.

6. Limit your alcohol intake

That drink may hit you harder than you think.

So many reasons not to get drunk | Bogdanhoda/Getty images

Drinking alcohol can inhibit your sleep cycle. Having the occasional drink is fine, but drinking too much means you won’t let your body rest the way it needs to. If your body doesn’t get enough sleep, it can exacerbate the pain. Cut back on your alcohol to make sure you’re always getting a good night’s sleep — it will make a difference in your everyday pain.

Next: Start your morning with this, and you could reduce your symptoms.

7. Walk more often

Women walkinga away

If you need encouragement to walk, get a dog! | iStock.com/RossHelen

Walking is one of the best all-around exercises you can do. It gives you a workout without straining your body too much, which is perfect if you’re dealing with chronic pain. Plus, walking has plenty of other benefits, such as reducing stress, increasing blood flow, and helping maintain a healthy weight. Try a 30-minute walk to start your day each morning.

Next: Start slowly with this effective pain reducer.

8. Strength training

happy people doing lunge exercise in gym

This exercise won’t work for all those suffering from pain. | iStock.com/dolgachov

Depending on your level of pain, intense strength training may not be for you. But even light weights (one to three pounds) can make a difference in chronic pain. When you build muscle, the muscles become less fatigued. This means you can do more each day without the pain being too hard to manage. Try to exercise at least two or three times per week, and hit the main muscle groups: legs, chest, shoulders, back, arms, and abs.

Next: This common exercise can help relieve daily pain in a big way.

9. Stretching

Young black woman sitting on the floor at home stretching

Perhaps the most helpful way to relieve pain | Monkeybusinessimages/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Stretching might not seem like an exercise, but it actually plays a big role in your everyday physical fitness. Stretching helps increase flexibility, and it also helps improve your range of motion. Both of these are important for reducing chronic pain symptoms. Plus, it’s something you can do before and after each of the following exercises, so you’ll learn to do it often, which can help reduce everyday pain.

Next: Take your stretching exercises to the next level.

10. Yoga

Yoga posture

After a couple weeks of stretching, you may need a new challenge. | natalie_board/ Getty Images

Practicing gentle yoga can be an excellent way to reduce chronic pain. It relaxes your muscles, but it also relaxes your mind. And both are necessary for reducing those daily, sometimes hard-to-manage symptoms. Yoga can also prevent your chronic pain from getting worse, and there are plenty of poses to try if one doesn’t work for you.

Next: Look for these in daily life, and try to reduce them.

11. Reduce the stresses in everyday life

Portrait of stressed woman looking at smartphone screen outdoors

Do you best to not sweat the small stuff. | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Meditation might relax your muscles and mind, but it’s still important to take care of daily stresses. Anything you feel mentally can translate into a physical feeling, meaning your chronic pain will be worse if you’re under a lot of stress. Try reducing life’s daily stressors, such as giving yourself extra time for your morning commute to avoid stressing about getting to work late. Talk to your boss and family about the pain and your interest in reducing daily stresses, and see if they can help you create a plan to feel more stress-free.

Next: This daily action can create a domino effect of healthy living.

12. Keep your diet healthy

Women Healthy eating

In addition to eating pain-fighting foods, keep your diet clean. | DragonImages/iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Healthy eating creates a healthier mind and body. When you eat better, you feel better. Eating healthy keeps your heart healthy, which results in lower blood sugar and blood pressure, plus better circulation. All of these play a role in how your body feels every day. Try eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and protein. Also, stick to low-sodium foods (your sodium intake should not exceed 2,300 milligrams per day) to prevent inflammation.

Next: Here’s what chronic pain actually is.

13. What is chronic pain?

Spine pain

Man with an inflamed spine | Staras/Getty Images

Chronic pain is everyday pain that can last anywhere from a few months to many years. For most people, pain stops once its cause is found and treated. But for millions of Americans, the pain can last long after an injury has subsided. According to WebMD, about 25% of people with chronic pain also get diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome (CPS). This means the chronic pain can be accompanied by depression and anxiety as well.

Next: What causes chronic pain versus short-term pain?

14. Chronic pain is caused by the ‘pain system’ going into overdrive

An actual human brain

The human brain | Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

Everyone gets injured at some point in their lives. But for people with chronic pain, their nervous system goes into overdrive and constantly sends pain signals to the brain, even if the pain is long gone. It’s hard to tell what causes that overdrive, but often some type of serious injury (such as a knee replacement or a hernia repair) is what starts it. And once it starts, it’s difficult to treat, but following the previous tips and exercises can help you manage it.

Next: Your doctor knows how to treat you better than anyone, and medications might be necessary. 

15. There are also medications to treat chronic pain

Medicine with a glass of water

Mediation bottle | FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

There are many medications that can be prescribed for chronic pain. The type of medication you might receive varies based on the pain level. For some, over-the-counter treatments like Motrin or Advil are enough. But for others, stronger pain medications, such as opioids, might be necessary. Today, doctors are shying away from prescribing strong pain killers unless absolutely necessary (to help reduce the ongoing opioid epidemic). But your doctor will know the treatment option that is best for you.

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