One of the easiest and most effective methods of pain treatment and prevention is free, it takes just a few minutes a day and, you can do it from the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is stretch.
Preventing pain is easier than treating pain. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Strengthening the muscles of your body can help prevent pain and the injuries that cause them. These 11 exercises are designed to do just that.
Exercises to Prevent Neck Pain
Neck pain is a very common problem among Americans today. The incidence of neck pain has increased right along with the number of hours we spend hunched over a screen. The following exercises to prevent neck pain will help you build up the muscles in your neck, keeping pain at bay.
Side-to-Side Head Rotation
- Turn your head to the right, bringing your chin over your right shoulder.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then bring your head back to the center position.
- Repeat, turning your head to the left side.
- Repeat exercise three to five times on each side.
- Starting with your head in the center position, tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear to your right shoulder.
- Repeat, tilting your head to the left.
- If needed, you can use your hands to deepen the stretch.
- Repeat three to five times on each side.
Chin Tuck Stretch
- Begin with your head in the center position.
- Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed.
- Pull your head back, causing your chin to naturally tuck.
- Hold for five seconds, then release.
- Repeat ten times a day.
- Start with your head in the center position.
- Roll your head in a circle, tilting head forward, then to the left, then back, then right, then return to center.
- Repeat in the opposite directing, tilting your head forward, then to the right, then back, then left, then return to center.
- Repeat three times on each side.
Here’s a video that demonstrates some neck pain exercises.
Exercises to Prevent Back Pain
No list of exercises to prevent pain would be complete without a section covering exercises to prevent back pain. Back pain is one of the most common complaints doctors hear from their patients. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix once the back has been injured and rehabilitation takes time. For this reason, preventing back pain is preferable to treating it after the fact. Here are several exercises to prevent pain by building strength in the back and core muscles.
When it comes to preventing back pain, building your ab muscles is the way to go. According to a study in Brazil, a core-strengthening program reduced back pain in cyclists by a whopping 44 percent. Stuart McGill, Ph.D., a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, explains:
“Pedaling can create micromovements in your pelvis and spine, which can lead to lower-back pain. Core work stiffens your spine and back, shifting movement to your legs.”
McGill recommends a three move exercise regimen that is sure to help prevent back pain. The exercises McGill swears by to prevent back pain are the side bridge, curl-up, and bird dog. The video below demonstrates these exercises to prevent pain.
Exercises to Prevent Knee Pain
Like neck pain and back pain, knee pain is an extremely common condition. As with pain in other areas of the body, there are exercises to prevent knee pain by strengthening the leg muscles. Whether you are sitting, walking, running, or making countless other movements with your legs, you depend on your knees. Stiff and painful knees can make day to day activities downright tortuous. Here are four exercises to prevent knee pain.
- Lie flat on your back on the floor with legs straight
- Lift your right leg about a foot into the air while keeping your left leg flat on the ground.
- Lower your leg back down to the ground
- Repeat three sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Repeat with your left leg
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your back pressing against a wall.
- Lower yourself down towards the floor as if you were going to sit while keeping your back pressed against the wall.
- Hold the squat for 30 seconds.
- Remember that the lower you “sit,” the more intense the exercise will be. However, take care not to let your thighs go past the point where they are parallel to the floor.
- For this exercise, you will need either a step platform or a low step.
- Stand with both of your feet on the platform.
- Step one leg down to the ground, touching the floor, then return it to the platform.
- Repeat 10-12 times.
- Repeat with your other leg.
Here’s a video with 22 leg exercises for bad knees.
Although exceedingly simple, walking is one of the best exercises for your body. Jake Pacheco, a personal trainer who specializes in knee and hip joint anatomy, says that walking is one of the most important exercises we can do to maintain our health and remain pain-free as we age.
“Walking is an effective cardiovascular exercise that puts the least amount of stress on your joints, which makes it a great way to stay active, maintain proper weight, and to maintain your mobility as you get older,” he says. “Staying sedentary will make stiff knees stiffer. Walking is an easy way to get moving, and it’s accessible for everyone.”
Warm Ups and Stretches
If we have any hope of avoiding injury when we do these exercises to prevent pain, it is essential that we properly warm up and stretch ahead of time. Exactly what stretches or warm-ups you should do depends on what area of the body you are working out at any given time. But the premise behind warming up is simple. If we go into our exercise routine without preparing our muscles first, we are headed for trouble. Working out without warming up is how injuries happen.
Warm-ups can be as easy as gentle stretching or jogging before a run. They don’t need to take up a lot of time either. Just three to five minutes is enough to protect your body from injury during your workout. But whatever you do, don’t ever skip this important step in your exercise routine.
Here’s a video with a full body stretching routine. As with the above exercises, be gentle with yourself. You should not do any exercises or stretches that make your pain worse.
Live Better with Exercises to Prevent Pain
These exercises to prevent pain can help you live better by keeping you on the move. Exercise is always good, as it keeps us healthy. But you have to admit, the added benefit of preventing pain before it has a chance to start is too good of a bonus to pass up on. Start strengthening your muscles today with these 11 exercises to prevent pain. Trust me, your body will thank you for it.