We’ve been told that a regular exercise routine is the key to good health. And it’s true. Healthy movement is essential in keeping the systems of the body in optimal condition, especially as we age. However, if you suffer from chronic pain of any kind, it’s possible the exercise you’re doing such as Pilates, yoga, weight machines, or cardio could actually be making things worse.
The Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating bodily functions such as heart rate and digestion. It is also in control of your body’s response to stress, also known as “fight or flight.” When you experience a stressful event such as saving a child who runs out into traffic or receiving bad news from a loved one, the autonomic nervous system kicks in to help us take action and stay safe. The problem is, this system is not designed to stay in stress mode. Stress tightens and constricts, which over time can lead to chronic pain.
Overstimulation of these reflexes triggers patterns of movement that create tension in the body. This physical tension could manifest as a flared rib cage or a pelvic tilt resulting in postural misalignment and chronic pain.
When Exercise Causes Stress
It may not surprise you that exercise also causes stress on the body. In the best case scenario, the body is equipped to recover from a workout with increased strength and stamina. In other words, the stress of the workout is released allowing the benefits to outweigh the consequences. But for someone who is in a constant state of physical or emotional stress, vigorous exercise can do more harm than good.
If you exercise regularly and still experience chronic pain, learning to release tension in the body is essential. When we down-regulate the autonomic nervous system and improve the postural alignment of the rib cage and pelvis, we can maximize the benefits of regular exercise and decrease chronic pain.
Releasing Tension and Relieving Pain
At the Movement Studio, I help people release tension and relieve pain using three primary techniques. Postural Restoration (PRI) improves dynamic postural alignment which is a great place to begin in most cases. Primary Reflex Release Technique (PRRT) is a hands-on therapy that calms the nervous system by stimulating it to create a pathway for bringing it back into balance. Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE®) is a simple and safe process I teach so you can learn to down-regulate your autonomic nervous system on your own after a workout or a stressful event.
If you’re curious about the effectiveness of your exercise routine I can help. Review the info on my website to learn how we can work together to relieve your chronic pain.