Exercise affects pain perception differently, depending on the type of pain. (Yes, I’m geeking out on pain research today!)
According to the Pain Physician Journal article, “Dysfunctional Endogenous Analgesia During Exercise in Patients with Chronic Pain: To Exercise or Not to Exercise?“:
- In healthy people, exercise releases pain inhibitors from the brain, which in turn keeps the body more comfortable.
- When chronic pain is present, the brain’s pain inhibition is impaired.
- Aerobic exercise does not activate pain inhibitors in those with fibromyalgia, chronic whiplash disorders or chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Strength training can increase pain sensitivity in fibromyalgia sufferers, but decreases pain in arthritis sufferers.
- During exercise, chronic low back pain sufferers have normal brain pain inhibition.
- Exercising non-painful muscles releases general pain inhibitors everywhere.
- Exercising painful muscles does not release general pain inhibitors anywhere.
- The precise mechanism for these differences is presently unknown.
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