Managing Pain Through Exercise
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Acute and chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. According to the National Institutes of Health, pain is a leading cause of disability and a major contributor to health care costs in America.
Often times, pain is the result of an underlying health condition or injury. For many, pain can be a minor nuisance, but for others, it can impact every aspect of life.
If you suffer from pain, it’s important to know it doesn’t mean you have to quit moving. In fact, exercise can be used to help manage pain. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainers Robert Treece and Colette Cole explain how.
Assessing the Pain
When someone comes in with pain, Treece says the first step is to perform a Functional Movement Screen. The 15-minute, seven-movement evaluation is designed to assess overall mobility and stability.
“Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor and it’s been determined the pain is not associated with structural damage that would require medical intervention, you can be evaluated by a fitness professional who is proficient in movement based and isolated joint assessments, such as a Functional Movement Screen,” says Treece.
Treece says if pain is present within movement patterns─for example, a lunge or squat─he takes the assessment a step further with a range-of-motion evaluation and a posture analysis.
The results allow Treece and other trainers to develop a fitness plan aimed at strengthening and correcting the muscular imbalances that can lead to pain.
Muscle Activation Techniques
One process Treece uses to address muscular imbalances is Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT).
MAT addresses muscle weakness. The dynamic, hands-on process identifies and corrects neuromuscular imbalances—getting to the root of the muscle and joint pain. This process helps to restore normal body alignment, decrease pain and reduce the risk of injury.
“If pain persists in the most regressed environment, then we refer to a medical specialist since we do not diagnose or treat in our profession,” says Treece.
The Female Focus program at Cooper Fitness Center is also designed to address chronic pain and disease management. Beginning with a Functional Movement Screen and general fitness assessment, the program offers women a personalized fitness plan coupled with accountability and a support system through small group interval training classes.
Cole, the developer and director of Female Focus, incorporates a variety of trunk exercises into the personalized fitness routines to help women address spinal, shoulder and hip stability and improve overall movement and function.
“Every woman’s program is designed according to her own issues or goals,” Cole explains. “For example, women who have osteoporosis are given a program based around bone health. That might include trunk exercises, balance exercises, stability and strength.”
If a health condition or injury is causing you pain, Cole stresses it’s crucial you find a qualified trainer who can design a fitness program appropriate for your specific needs. As always, before you begin an exercise regimen, it’s important you’re cleared by your primary care physician first.
For more information on MAT or Female Focus, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.