Exercise for Pain Management: The Benefits of a Warm-Up

There are many benefits of warming up before a workout. Did you know that you can use warm-ups and exercise for pain management

Medical experts and even lay people have known for a long time that exercise can help you feel better, have more energy, and live longer. Exercise also controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, promotes quality sleep, increases confidence, and much more. And because regular physical activity has been shown to effectively reduce pain, particularly chronic pain in adults, it is a common pain treatment.

There are many different exercises that aid in managing pain. These include cardiovascular or aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, jogging, running, and swimming. Using strength/resistance exercises involving elastic bands, free weights, and body-weight resistance can relieve pain, too, as can stretching and warm-up exercises. 

Warming up is really important, as a matter of fact. There are many benefits of warm-up, regardless of the type of exercise you plan to do.

How Do Warm Ups Benefit and Help with Pain Management?

Exercising can relieve and prevent pain in a number of ways. Cardiovascular exercise, for example, is an excellent way to burn fat and lose weight, provided you maintain a healthy diet and consume fewer calories than you burn. The weight loss that results from the cardio can significantly reduce pressure on joints — especially lower body joints — relieving swelling, irritation, and pain, lowering the risk of injury, and slowing down degeneration. In one study, researchers found that losing just 10 pounds of fat could decrease knee osteoarthritis progression by 50 percent.

Resistance exercise can improve pain and chronic pain symptoms by adding muscles that support bone and cartilage. More muscle often translates to better pain management due to less bone-on-bone contact and inflammation. There may also be less stiffness, and added strength and endurance make physical injuries from falls and accidents (common in older adults) a lot less likely.

Usually, strength training and cardio exercise alone will not eliminate chronic pain from joint diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. However, exercise can serve as an effective complementary treatment.

What are the Benefits of Warm Up Exercises?

Warming up before aerobic and resistance exercises is beneficial because it prepares you for the strenuous activities ahead — not only physically but also psychologically. Rather than shocking the body, it gets your muscles ready at a gradual pace for exercises you are going to perform, increasing blood flow and oxygen to muscle cells. This makes it possible for you to perform at a higher level and minimize injuries while reaping the other benefits of warm-up.

Exercises for warming up raise body temperature, elevate heart rate, and loosen up muscles. With a higher body temperature, electrical signals are able to travel more rapidly along nerve fibers, increasing muscular contraction speed and force and making muscle tissue more pliable. Organs and systems in your body can adapt safely to a gradual increase in heart rate, whereas the opposite is true if you start exercising without warming up appropriately.

Does warming up prevent injury? It sure helps. Does warming up improve performance? For most individuals, yes, it does. Moreover, warm-up exercises improve neural function and coordination, and joints are protected as articular cartilage thickens with the natural accumulation of synovial fluid, a thick liquid located between the joints.

The benefits of warm-up exercises include:

  • Improved movement and flexibility and pain management from less muscle tension
  • Lower risk of physical injuries with muscles relaxed
  • Better range of motion, enabling more complete movement of the joints
  • Higher energy levels from hormone production
  • Enhanced exercise performance due to increased flow of blood and oxygen

What Are Examples of Warm Up Exercises?

Just as there are a lot of beneficial exercises that can improve your overall health and reduce pain, there are many warm-up routines that can help you get better results from physical training. In fact, a warm-up, ideally, will simply be a lighter version of the exercise you plan to do, where you perform it but at a slower pace and lower intensity. According to Harvard Health, warm-ups should last between 5 and 10 minutes, working all major muscle groups.

For a warm-up to successfully warm you up, it is necessary to engage the entire body, incorporating compound and low-impact movements. The best way to go about warming up for a cardio or strength training exercise that can assist with pain management is to begin slowly and then steadily increase intensity. Exert to the point of perspiration but not exhaustion. After all, you want to be able to get to and complete your planned exercise workout safely.

Walking, jogging, side lunges, planks, jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups are all examples of exercises that can deliver the benefits of warm-up sessions. Pre-workout and post-workout stretching is great as well, particularly when combined with exercise. The physical activity, though, should be suited to your age, health, and fitness level.

What Happens If You Don’t Warm Up Before Exercising?

Individuals who don’t warm up before exercise forgo a plethora of potential health benefits, with one being pain relief. For people living with chronic pain, relief can be life-changing. You increase your risk of musculoskeletal injuries that could cause or exacerbate pain when you skip warm-up exercise. In addition, you place yourself at risk for cardiovascular problems, as exercising strenuously without preparing your body strains the heart and the lungs.

Benefits of Warming Up for Pain Management

There are plenty of health benefits associated with adding warm-up exercises and stretches to an exercise routine. One just needs to go about it the right way. A medical professional can help you determine which exercises and warm-ups are most beneficial for you. If you happen to be a chronic pain sufferer, a pain specialist doctor can work with you to formulate a healthcare management plan for pain that will improve your quality of life.

At Carolinas Pain Center, we have a team of highly trained pain specialists who are well-versed in pain management and pain treatment. Over the years, we have treated thousands of patients with diverse and complex pain conditions.

Struggling with chronic pain? We can help. Set an appointment here and a friendly coordinator will contact you.