Two simple flexibility exercises for common causes of painApril 9, 2018
As we age, pains become more common, and many factors, from genetics to life experiences, play a role in how we experience them, says Dr. Edward Michna, director of the Pain Trials Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Know when to talk to your doctor
But if you experience persisting discomfort, there are a couple of common chronic pain issues worth asking your doctor about:
Lower back pain
Chronic lower back pain, which can include muscle aches, stabbing pain, pain that travels down your leg, or a loss in movement, can surface for many reasons, such as osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal. Muscle strains, disc problems, skeletal irregularities and compression fractures can also cause back pain.
Osteoarthritis affects millions of people around the globe. It involves the wearing of cartilage on the ends of your bones, particularly the hands, knees, hips and spine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include pain after movement, tenderness, loss of flexibility, or grating sensations.
Staying active matters
Though any discomfort should be discussed with your doctor, Michna emphasizes the importance of staying active to fight chronic pain. Here are a couple of simple flexibility exercises from the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life physical activity campaign that you can do each day:
- Sit toward the front of a sturdy, armless chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly bend forward from your hips, keeping your back and neck straight.
- Relax your neck slightly and lower your chin.
- Slowly bend down until you feel a stretch, moving your hands along your legs toward your shins.
- Hold for 10–30 seconds.
- Straighten up slowly and repeat 3–5 times.
Shoulder and upper arm exercises
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold one end of a towel in your right hand.
- Raise and bend your right arm to drape the towel down your back.
- Reach behind your lower back and grasp the towel with your left hand.
- Pull the towel down with your left hand until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder.
- Repeat at least 3–5 times; reverse arms and repeat 3–5 times.
Editor’s note: The full version of this article first appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of thrive., a healthy living newsletter for Blue Cross Medicare members. The full issue, along with past issues, is available at bluecrossmn.com/PlatinumBluethrive.