Strength Training to Overcome Pain
For many people who suffer from pain – chiropractic, massage, physical therapy, acupuncture and pain medication – are all possible avenues to help live a better life.
However, looking into the scientific literature, weight lifting or strength training has more clinical evidence supporting its use to treat pain than anything else.
Of course, strength training brings to mind bulging muscles and sweaty bro's grunting as they admire their muscles in the mirror.
But exercise physiologists and scientists now say it's time to discard those antiquated notions of weight lifting and accept the fact that it can do more for your health than your physique.
Modern exercise science has demonstrated that working with weights — whether that weight is a light dumbbell or your own body — may be the best exercise for pain-free lifelong physical function and fitness.
Strength training exercises are actually among the most important exercises to stay fit and healthy.
Muscle strength decreases with age unless you work on preventing it with strength training exercises.
According to a 2018 CDC report, less than 25% of Americans over the age of 45 engage in strength training.
A big part of this is due to the elderly worrying about being injured and women worry about bulking up and looking manly.
However, if you don’t work to strengthen your muscles, muscle function will decline by 25% of what you had in your mid-30’s when you reach 70.
They will decline by 50% by the time your 90.
At around age 30 you lose as much as 3% to 5% of lean muscle mass per year and if you have pre-existing spine dysfunctions, it only makes it worse.
Strength training helps to make daily activities easier whether it’s climbing stairs or doing outdoor chores like raking leaves.
There are numerous health benefits to strength training that can help reduce chronic pain.
When muscles are stronger your effort decreases which helps prevent fatigued muscles.
For many years, people with illnesses such as fibromyalgia were told to avoid strength training exercises.
Today, research demonstrates the safety and benefit of this important type of exercise for people with illnesses like fibromyalgia.
In addition, many people struggle with back and neck pain at some point in their lives and there is plenty of evidence that strength training exercises help.
They strengthen muscles stopping long-lasting cycles of pain.
Strength Training and Back Pain
It may seem counter intuitive, but weight lifting and strength training can actually help reduce back pain.
However, the point isn't to bulk up your muscles like a body builder—it's to develop strength, especially back and core strength.
The muscles in your back help keep your spine moving as it should.
If you have a weak back or weak abdominal muscles, you could be more prone to back strain.
Strong, healthy back muscles are also important because they're associated with your posture. And in some cases, chronic back pain is a result of poor posture.
But focusing on strengthening only one part of the body, such as your back, isn't enough.
It's crucial to strengthen other parts of your body, too, including your core and leg muscles.
Overall body strength can lead to less back pain and can help you perform daily activities, such as lifting, better.
Strength Training and Nerves
Scientists have known for some time that early increases in strength must involve changes in the connections between the brain and muscles.
The process appears to involve particular bundles of neurons and nerve fibres that carry commands from the brain’s motor cortex, which controls muscular contractions, to the spinal cord and, from there, to the muscles.
If those commands become swifter and more forceful (via consistent training), the muscles on the receiving end should respond with stronger contractions (strength).
This means size isn't everything and those of you trying to become stronger by putting in extra hours at the gym may be getting it all wrong.
Lifting heavy weights engages the nerve cells more than lifting light weights, even if you do far fewer reps.
Lifting heavy weights can cause nerves to carry more signals from the brain to the muscles, making muscles stronger.
So if you're trying to increase strength – whether you're Joe Shmoe, a weekend warrior, a gym rat or an athlete – training with high loads (heavy weight) is going to result in greater strength adaptations.
A new study, which was published in June, in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers discovered that strength isn’t just about muscle mass.
You get stronger because the neural input to your muscles increases.
This data tells us that strength may be even more fundamental to our wellbeing than we already expect, since gaining it involves and alters some of the most ancient components of our central nervous system.
Chiropractic Influences the Nervous System (Strength)
A Chiropractic adjustment improves function of the entire body by releasing stress from the central nervous system.
Adjustments now serve as one of the most important health interventions which anyone can implement into their routine.
Chiropractors have long observed a wide variety of changes in the people under their care following adjustments.
Along the wide spectrum of claims from those under care are those who say they feel better or focus better and those who notice improvements in movement and coordination.
A paper published in 2016 in the Journal Neuroplatisticity found that a single chiropractic adjustment has the potentional for changing brain function.
Specifically, chiropractic adjustments change neural activity by 20%!
A 2019 paper published in the journal Nature, found that chiropractic spinal adjustments may alter central processing of pain and unpleasantness.
Another paper, published in 2019 in the journal Nature, found that a single session of chiropractic care improved strength and spinal excitability in stroke patients.
This shows that every time we’re adjusting someone, we’re having a big, positive effect on the brain.
And a brain that’s functioning differently and conducting its activities better is sure to have an effect on the body.
At its very foundation chiropractic helps improve nervous system function by making adjustments to the spine.
Over time, more and more studies are proving that it is extremely effective and as a result many health conditions are improved from regular chiropractic care.
When the spine is not aligned or the body is out of balance it can impact the function of the nervous system, causing chronic pain, difficulty in mobility, and a wide range of health conditions.
Chiropractic adjustments open the pathways of the nervous system allowing the information to flow unobstructed.
It goes far beyond just the spine though.
Chiropractors adjust the arms, legs, neck, and hips in addition to the spine which all work together to provide a healthy, functioning nervous system.
Regular chiropractic care can help keep the nervous system unimpeded and working as it should.