Strength Training for Reducing Pain
For many people with pain, chiropractic care, massage, physiotherapy, acupuncture, and pain relievers are all possible ways to help them live better lives. However, when researching the scientific literature, weightlifting or resistance training has started gaining traction with more clinical evidence supporting its use to treat pain. Strength training is no longer limited to working out at the gym in order to bulk up, but now includes using light weights, or body weight exercises in order to increase the strength of the muscles which can help lead to a pain-free life.
Muscle strength declines with age, unless you work to prevent it with strength training exercises
According to a 2018 CDC report, less than 25% of Americans over 45 do weight training. Much of this is because older people worry about hurting themselves or looking too bulky. However, as we age, we lose what we don’t use, leading to the atrophy (wasting) of muscles that support our back, shoulders, hips, etc. through everyday activities.
Strength training has many health benefits
that can help reduce chronic pain
Strength training makes everyday activities easier, from climbing stairs to doing outdoor tasks like gardening, raking leaves or walking our dogs. When the muscles are stronger, their effort decreases, which helps prevent muscle fatigue and overexertion of muscle groups that commonly lead to pain.
How does strength training work?
Strength training leads to increased nerve activity from the brain to the muscle. This solidifies the pathways between the brain and the muscle groups being targeted, making it easier to move the muscles, and less likely for there to be atrophy as we age. This leads to more protection of our spine and joints as we age.
Like a pathway in a forest, the more we walk the path, the more visible the pathway becomes for the next hike, so we don’t hurt ourselves tripping on rocks, sticks or having to walk through bushes in order to get to our destination. Therefore, the goal of strength training is to create stronger bundles of nerves creating more concrete pathways, and not “bulking” up at the gym.
Overall, resistance training leads to your muscles being more adaptable to daily activities or new activities that would normally be painful or injury-inducing. Common groups of muscles strengthened for lower back pain include the core and the gluteal muscles.
Chiropractic Care and Increased Strength
So how can chiropractic care help with strengthening muscles? It turns out, recent research has shown that chiropractic adjustments influence the nervous systems in various ways. One way is by increasing central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) activity by up to 20%, and another is by strengthening the pathways between your brain and your muscles. Going back to the forest analogy, spinal manipulation is helping those forest pathways become less covered in rocks, bushes and twigs, clearing the way for stronger connections when strength training at home.
Not only can adjustments help you become stronger, a chiropractor can additionally help by showing you exercises you can do at home; whether with a dumbbell, resistance band, or simply using your body. Pain is multifactorial, and therefore different angles of approach are required; having a chiropractic adjustment to increase range of motion, decrease painful nerve activity and increase muscle strengthening nerve pathways is one way to help deal with injuries and help prevent future occurrences of pain.
Regular chiropractic care can assist you and your goals of reducing pain and becoming stronger
Chiropractic adjustments help reduce pain in multiple ways, including increasing range of motion, reducing painful nerve signals, improving brain and spinal function and increasing the neural pathways between the brain and the muscles to help improve overall strength. Pain usually requires multiple approaches, and chiropractic care is a safe, natural approach to resolving pain, whether it be neck, back, low back, hip, shoulder, headaches, and many more ailments.
This blog was written by our Chiropractor, Dr. Jerrod Puckett (DC, Masters of Science in Sports Medicine).