Physical therapy offers plenty of benefits for many people suffering from chronic pain. Regular therapeutic exercise can help reduce inflammation, improve range of motion, and relieve stressful feelings that often accompany long-term pain. And, many exercises can be performed right in your own home.
At Powell Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, Thomas Powell, MD, uses therapy and other nonsurgical treatments to help patients deal with acute pain, chronic pain, and a wide range of injuries and diseases. In this post, learn some simple, at-home exercises that might be able to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life.
Shoulder rolls focus on relieving strain, stiffness, and discomfort in your shoulders, neck, and upper back. To do this simple exercise, stand or sit straight, then lift your shoulders up toward your ears in an exaggerated shrugging motion. Then roll your shoulders back as you slowly lower them, squeezing your shoulder blades together before returning to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times.
Arm circles are also good for shoulder pain and stiffness. Standing upright, hold your arms out from your sides, roughly parallel with the ground. Now move your arms in tiny circles, gradually increasing the size of the circles until you feel a tugging in your upper arm muscles. Continue for about 10 seconds, then reverse directions and repeat.
Sometimes called the cat-cow stretch, this simple exercise helps relieve back pain while improving balance and posture. Begin on your hands and knees, with your palms flat on the floor about shoulder-width apart.
Now inhale while curving your spine inward and down and lifting your head and tailbone toward the ceiling. (Think about creating a concave bowl with your back.) Hold for about 10 seconds.
Next, exhale while rounding your spine up toward the ceiling (like a cat arching its back), tucking your head toward your chest and bringing your tailbone down and in toward your knees. Hold again for 10 seconds, then repeat the sequence 5-10 times.
Leg raises can help with knee and hip pain. Begin by lying flat on your back with your right knee bent and your right foot flat on the floor. Keeping your left leg straight, slowly raise it from the floor to the height of your bent knee. Hold for a count of five, then lower your leg to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs.
These stretches can help with knee or hip pain, along with pain in your lower back. Seated at the edge of a firm chair (or a sturdy stool or table), extend your left leg straight in front of you as far as possible, keeping your heel on the floor. Now, reach forward and try to grasp your toes. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then release and repeat with your other leg.
This simple exercise helps with ankle pain, and it’s very simple to do. Lying on your back or sitting in a chair with one foot elevated, keep your leg stationary and use your foot and ankle to outline each letter of the alphabet. Repeat for both ankles.
Find a routine that works for you
Even though these exercises focus on different areas of your body, they all have one thing in common: They should never be performed until after you’ve had a physical evaluation and your doctor or physical therapist has given you the “OK” to begin exercise.
If you have acute or chronic pain, performing any exercise on your own without a prior medical evaluation could lead to additional injury and even long-term pain and disability. To learn how we can help you find the right exercises to relieve your pain, call 205-606-5232 or request an appointment online with Powell Orthopedics and Sports Medicine today.