People usually choose painkillers over exercise when it comes to addressing body pain. This is because there is a misconception that exercises for body pain are complicated and time consuming. Some say that over-the-counter painkillers are god’s gift to mankind. After all, only a handful of people can afford the luxury of resting in bed because of body pain.
Recent data shows that revenue in analgesics (painkillers) segment in India amounts to US$768.53m in 2020. The market is expected to grow annually by 8.7% (CAGR 2020-2023). The data is reflective of a growing addiction among Indian youth for harmful painkillers.
For many, painkillers might end up being the only option, but it should never be your first option. Long-term abuse of chemical-heavy or compound painkillers can have debilitating side-effects. These include liver or kidney disease or failure, weakened immunity, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, impaired mental function, respiratory issues and even death from toxicity or overdose.
Exercise is a much better option. Studies show that practicing exercises for body pain improves overall health and reduces the risk of disease and progression of chronic illnesses. It is extremely effective in treating pain. Moreover, unlike painkillers, physical exercise can be tailored individually depending on the seriousness of the pain, physical limitations and available resources.
Let’s look at a few simple exercises that can help you with your body pain.
7 Simple And Effective Exercises To Relieve Body Pain
1. The Bird Dog Pose
Get on your hands and knees. Then lift the right arm and left leg until level with the body, keep your torso tight. Hold for 30 seconds. Then relax and repeat with the left arm and right leg. Repeat for 2 sets of 12 reps, alternating between the sides.
This is one of the effective exercises for body pain, especially in the lower back.
2. Levator Scapulae Stretch
Sit up straight with both hands at the sides. Raise the right arm forwards and reach over the back with the hand grasping the right shoulder blade and applying downward pressure. Now, rotate the head to the left about 45 degrees (which is about halfway toward the shoulder). Tilt the chin downward until a good stretch is felt on the back right side of the neck. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
When the neck becomes stiff or sore due to a muscle strain, the long levator scapulae muscle, which runs down the side of the neck and into the shoulder, is usually one of the muscles involved. This exercise helps with neck and shoulder pain by stretching this muscle, gradually strengthening it.
3. Hamstring Stretch
Lie on the mat or bed with both legs bent. Slowly lift one leg, still bent, and bring your knee back toward the chest. Link your hands behind your thigh and straighten your leg. Pull your straight leg back toward your head until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then slowly bend your knee and lower your leg back to the floor. Now repeat with the other knee.
These stretches are effective exercises for body pain because they strengthen your hamstrings, which are the muscles on the backs of the thighs that attach to the knees.
4. Child’s Pose
Get on your hands and knees on the ground and rest your hips on your heels and fold forward. Now stretch your hand in front of you. Rest your belly on your thighs. Extend your arms in front of or alongside your body with your palms facing down. Focus on breathing deeply and relaxing any areas of tension or tightness. Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.
This yoga pose is one of the best exercises for body pain because it helps relieve tension all along your spine, neck, and shoulders by promoting blood circulation along the spine.
5. The Cat-Cow Stretch
Get on your fours. Place your hands in alignment under your wrists and your knees under your hips. Curl your toes under. Tilt your pelvis back so that your tailbone sticks up. Breathe in and tuck your belly in and look up. Hold for 30 seconds (cow pose). Now, relax your toes so that they bend against the floor. Tip your pelvis forward, this time tucking your tailbone in. Your spine should be in the shape of an arch. Draw your belly in and look down (cat pose).
The asana helps relieve stress from menstrual cramps, lower back pain, and sciatica. The Cat/Cow Pose increases the flexibility of the neck, shoulders, and spine. The movement also stretches the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen and chest, hence relieving body pain.
Lie on the ground and bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor with your hip wide apart. Press your feet into the floor and keep your arms by the sides. Now, raise the buttocks off the ground until the body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees. Hold the position for 1 minute. Then lower the buttocks to the ground and rest for a few seconds.
When you are looking solely at exercises for body pain, this is a particularly useful pose; it has a positive effect on your hips, thighs and lower back.
7. Big Toe Stretch
Sit up straight in a chair with the feet firmly planted on the floor. Bring your left foot to rest on the right thigh. Now using your fingers, gently stretch the big toe up, down, and to the side. Remain in this position for 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times before switching to the other foot. This exercise is perfect for relieving pain in toes that have been squished in overly tight shoes.
The exercises listed above are effective and efficient exercises for body pain, but they will help only with localized pain in the body. These can be practiced to treat pain or to keep pain at bay. There are activities such as walking, cycling, running; stair climbing and skipping that can be adopted for the well-being of the entire body. But these will need space, time and, in some cases, equipment. The above can be done at home and require little time. If you have the resources, Ayurveda is another natural pathway to pain relief.
Tip: If you have age on your side then exercising can have multiple positive effects on the body and mind. But in case you have to opt for painkillers, try opting for natural products.