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Physical Activity: The Key To Reduce Musculoskeletal Pain

Believe it or not, the human body is designed to work rather than sit idle relying on machines for activities of daily living. The moment you adopt a sedentary lifestyle you can become trapped in a vicious circle of deconditioning, injury and muscular pain. Extensive changes in the work environment, modern conveniences and technology have increased the time spent sitting or being inactive, thus, having a major impact on the physical activity profile and related lifestyle diseases among the Indian population.

Daily physical activity is defined as "any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles resulting in energy expenditure". We already know that being physically active can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression and falling.

The role of physical activity in managing pain from musculoskeletal disorders is well documented in research worldwide. Good muscle function obviously supports the skeleton, it also helps maintain the function of other body organs. Muscle is the main energy consumer of the body so the big muscles being exercised regularly creates better perfusion of all body systems, which in turn helps fire up a sluggish metabolism created from a sedentary lifestyle. Musculoskeletal disorders are prevalent in the sedentary population and their chronicity leads to functional impairments. Some of the common musculoskeletal disorders are:

Work-related Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)

  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Non-specific low back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Degenerative Musculoskeletal Disorders

  • Osteoarthritis of the knee and hip
  • Osteopenia/osteoporosis (loss of bone density)
  • Degenerative disc disease of the neck and back
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis

An inactive lifestyle may contribute to pain related to common above-mentioned disorders. While regular exercise is recommended, if you have pain then consult physiotherapist at Prohealthasia for guidance before getting started on a fitness regime. Your physiotherapist is well trained to assess your exact needs and will develop a customized physiotherapy session plan that takes into account any current pain, injury or disability and then guide you through the healing process. This process can be a slow start while paying attention to how your body tolerates the new activity, finding what works best for you, and gradually progressing the intensity of the physiotherapy sessions as strength and function improves and pain resolves.

Aerobic activities, also known as endurance or conditioning exercise, make your heart beat faster and lungs work harder to improve heart-lung fitness and overall muscle strength. This type of exercise is known to release endorphins which are the body’s natural pain relieving and mood enhancing hormones. It is particularly effective when exercising in a group such as aqua-aerobics or mat Pilates due to the additional psycho-social benefit. See below for examples of popular aerobic activities:

MODERATE INTENSITY VIGOROUS INTENSITY
  • Brisk Walking, golf
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Social dancing
  • Conditioning machines such as stair climbers, elliptical, stationary bike
  • Pilates
  • Jogging/running
  • Singles tennis
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Conditioning machines  such as stair climbers, elliptical, stationary bike
  • Aerobic dance or spinning classes
  • Pilates

Muscle groups can be targeted individually for strengthening and, depending on your condition, the number of weekly sessions will vary through a minimum of twice a week is advised. Strong muscles take the pressure off painful joints and allow the body to normalize its biomechanical functions. Your physiotherapist at Prohealth Asia physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Center will help if you have a specific problem, otherwise a general workout of the major muscles groups such as thighs, hips, back, chest, shoulders and arms gives an overall benefit. Common examples are lifting weights dumbbells or weight cuffs, working with resistance bands and Pilates workouts.

The World Health Organization has recommendations for improvement or maintenance of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health and to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases and depression. Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration and work up to 30 minutes. For additional health benefits, adults can increase their moderate-intensity aerobic activity to 300 minutes or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Muscle-strengthening activities should be performed involving major muscle groups on two or more days a week.

Physical activity has proven to increase a person’s pain threshold and help develop better-coping strategies through improved body awareness. The physiotherapist at Prohealth Asia physiotherapy and rehabilitation center is expert with pain relieving techniques and giving the confidence to start moving painful body parts. They are also trained to perform ergonomic assessments in the workplace and home settings to help reduce stress on the body and develop more efficient, pain free ways of sitting and moving.

Muscle conditioning helps injured tissue to heal more rapidly compared to resting on the bed, while strengthening improves muscle and bone health, which in turn better supports body structure. Sitting and doing nothing actually punishes your body and gives an invitation to injuries and pain. “Think before you become inactive, rather become active”.

Author by Amrinder Kour, Apr 25, 2019,

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