The Benefits of Yoga for Pain Management
The effectiveness of pain management strategies varies for each individual and their level of pain. Opioids are known to provide instant relief, which is why it’s the most common prescription for pain. However, the opioid epidemic in the United States highlights the need for alternative solutions to pain that pose no threat to the patient. One such treatment is yoga, which has been showing a lot of promise for pain management.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice that originated in India. It’s been popularized in the West as a workout — and for good reason. An hour of yoga a day can provide a cardiovascular boost as well as improve strength and flexibility.
Yoga, however, is more than an effective workout. As a holistic activity, it can boost the physical and psychological state of each practitioner. It’s best to think of yoga as moving meditation because it incorporates movement, breath control, and mindfulness into one package. For these reasons, yoga can become an effective way to manage and prevent post-operative pain, whether acute or chronic.
Builds strength and flexibility
It’s undeniable that yoga as physical activity is rewarding. Writer James Gonzales pointed out that it is an effective training routine for both strength and flexibility. You only need your own body weight to tone different muscle groups and improve range of motion. This is why yoga is ideal for cross-training for sports, and more importantly, recovering from injury.
When it comes to managing and preventing pain, foundational strength and mobility are more important than people realize. Stronger muscles mean reduced effort when performing a strenuous movement or carrying heavy loads. Your joints also get better support from the surrounding muscles, which can reduce or eliminate pain. This is supported by a 2018 fibromyalgia study published in Advances in Rheumatology, which concludes that building strength reduces pain symptoms. While researchers are still looking at types of training, yoga is known to aid in rehabilitation, which can also help with overall pain prevention and alleviation.
Reduces pain perception
The effects of meditation on pain perception have been widely studied in the last decade. Researchers believe that pain has a subjective element to it that magnifies the sensory experience. Furthermore, healthcare journalist Dr Robert Glatter cited new evidence that strengthens earlier findings: Meditation can reduce the perception of pain.
Through the meditative side of yoga, one can concentrate on their sensory experience alone in any particular moment. This may sound counterproductive, but doing so can help a person identify the subjective elements that distort pain. Stressing over pain itself, for instance, can make a condition more painful than it actually is.
Improves stress management
Speaking of stress, Shape Magazine highlights that stress increases sensitivity to pain and that pain can be a reason for chronic stress. This just goes to show how easy it is to fall into a cycle of pain and stress. Fortunately, yoga can help by acting as a stress management tool. Simply taking deep breaths in yoga can do wonders for reducing pain. It increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga enhances your ability to relax even around stressful stimuli, like pain.
It should be noted that the effectiveness of practising yoga for pain management is not guaranteed. There are a lot of factors at play that can provide different results, such as the individual level of pain or the intensity of the yoga practice. That said, it doesn’t come with the physical and psychological risks that opioids carry. Be sure to seek out a qualified physical therapist or yoga instructor to start practising yoga safely. Overall, yoga is a great practice to get into to reduce pain and improve overall well-being.
The article was made for the use of Qualiteam.com
By Jillian Peters