Exercise remains an essential intervention of any acute or chronic pain management program. The effects of aerobic exercise on pain reduction (analgesia) is well established and thought to occur through a multifactorial process involving positive neurological (peripheral nerves, spinal cord, and brain), as well as, immunological, and circulatory changes in the body. The analgesic effects can be utilized to treat many types of pain including inflammatory, neuropathic, and muscle and joint pain. Prior strength training research has shown analgesic responses and reduced acute and chronic muscular pains through increases in testosterone and sensitivity of androgen receptors . A recent study sheds light on potential mechanisms behind its’ utilization in patients with pain.
Lesnak and colleagues from the University of Iowa published the results of their resistance training trial in the journal Pain (2022). Authors conducted an animal study using external resistance three days a week for 8 weeks. They measured the amount of muscle pain both before and after the study in the animal participants. Researchers reported the 8 weeks of training blocked the pain response in both male and female animals. The positive effects of resistance training were attributed to positive changes in testosterone levels and activation levels of the participant’s androgen receptors.
In our Boulder and Lafayette Physical Therapy practices aerobic and strength training exercise remains foundational interventions for the treatment of pain.