This catchy phrase is a memorable way to convey the helpful effects of movement for any painful condition. Generally, with most painful issues, with too much rest, people stiffen up and get more painful overall. Moving regularly keeps our joints and soft tissues more flexible and less painful. With our current lockdown restrictions, so many of us are unable to participate in our normal physical activity and/or are spending long hours working in home “offices” that are not set up properly. This is leading to a many folks experiencing pain and stiffness who previously were managing very well.
When people first hear that movement helps pain, many are skeptical. You may say, “but when I sit my knee/back, etc. feels OK and when I get up the pain is the worst!” While this may be true, that pain you experience is BECAUSE you have not moved in too long. To avoid this, you need to rest less and move more, but in a way that causes minimal to no pain. Any person with arthritis will tell you that their joints stiffen or gel up when they are still too long, and that once they get moving, they loosen up and feel much better.
It is a well-known fact in physiotherapy that our body’s soft tissues – ligaments, tendons, muscles, and connective tissues– will shorten and tighten if not moved through their full range regularly. This is one reason why a joint has reduced range of motion after being in a cast for several weeks. If those soft tissues are also inflamed, this phenomenon is even more pronounced. With inflammation, the soft tissues will also get more swollen when held still for long periods, for example overnight. When those inflamed tissues are moved again, it can feel quite painful for the first few movements.
Luckily, we can limit this effect! When sore inflamed tissues are moved gently and regularly in a non-aggravating way, they will actually become less painful. This is true while you are doing the movement, and also for overall pain levels as the injury or condition heals. Motion is Lotion also applies to persistent pain conditions. Many patients with arthritis or back or neck pain have learned that regular daily, appropriate, exercise is a good way to manage their painful symptoms.
If the pandemic restrictions and current lockdown are causing you pain, physio can help! With extensive training in both normal and abnormal body function and movement a physiotherapist is the best professional to assess your painful condition and determine the most appropriate type of movement/exercises for you. At Best Health Physiotherapy, our experienced physiotherapists have further specialized training in assessing and treating many types of injury and dysfunction. Call us to make an appointment. We can help you start moving to feel better!