Chronic pain knows no season, and for many people, its effects are felt year-round. But summer can introduce some particular challenges that may exacerbate your pain. And there are several chronic pain conditions with symptoms that may worsen in hot temperatures or humid conditions, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and migraines.
The silver lining is that summer also brings opportunities to reduce your symptoms. Here are some activities that won’t worsen your chronic pain, and in fact, could even improve it.
People with chronic pain know they have to be careful with exercise. While it’s often prescribed to improve physical functioning and reduce symptom severity, exercising too much or too intensely could have the opposite effect.
For a workout that won’t leave you feeling worse than when you started, consider taking a dip. When you swim, the water’s buoyancy makes you nearly weightless, which reduces the strain on your muscles and joints. It’s a low-impact, full-body cardiovascular exercise that allows you to enjoy a greater range of motion than you would on land. In people with low back pain, pool therapy has been shown to have tremendous benefits on pain levels, function, quality of life, mental state, and sleep quality.
No pool nearby? No problem. Other low-impact exercises can deliver physical and mental benefits that may help to alleviate your chronic pain. The easiest one to try is walking. Aim for 30 minutes, three to five times per week. To avoid getting overheated, avoid the hottest hours of the day, such as walking before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. You can also try targeted stretches to loosen any stiff muscle groups and relieve tension. Or, practice gentle yoga, which also delivers the benefit of stress relief.
Nothing is quite as refreshing as a cold smoothie or popsicle on a hot day. For easy homemade popsicles, experiment with ingredients like coconut milk, fresh fruit juice, nut butters, plain Greek yogurt, and even vegetables. For an added benefit, choose ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties that could help curb your chronic pain. The Arthritis Foundation recommends blueberries, blackberries, cherries, broccoli, spinach, and kale.
A cool, dark movie theater provides welcome relief from unrelenting heat, so catching a summer blockbuster is a great activity to add to your list. For an even more unique experience, visit your nearest drive-in theater. Park your car and blast the AC for a one-of-a-kind movie night under the stars.
Spending some time outdoors could help chronic pain: research indicates forest therapy (spending time in forested areas to promote wellness), can relieve pain in individuals with chronic conditions.
While traditional camping provides plenty of time outdoors, having nothing but a thin tent and sleeping bag between your back and the ground may not benefit your chronic pain. A happy medium is glamping (“glamorous camping”). It offers all the benefits of camping – including the ability to immerse yourself in nature and take a break from your busy routine – while still giving you the option to enjoy a warm shower, supportive sleep surface, and any other comforts that ease your pain. Consider renting a well-equipped cabin space or an RV to upgrade your camping experience.
For pain relief during any season, turn to Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. Our team is committed to finding personalized solutions aimed at controlling your pain and restoring your quality of life. Schedule an appointment with us online or by calling 770-929-9033.