About half of all adults in the U.S. experience some degree of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain, which affects the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, per the Cleveland Clinic’s website.
It can be sharp, acute pain that flares up suddenly, or the pain can be chronic and long-lasting.
While some cases may require surgery and/or prescription medication, some patients find relief through alternative methods, according to Claire Morrow, PT, senior physical therapy consultant at Hinge Health, a digital pain management clinic in San Francisco, California.
“There are many lifestyle factors that contribute to a person’s pain experience, including general exercise as well as simple healthy behaviors,” she told Fox News Digital.
Morrow shared these five holistic tips that take a “whole-person approach” to chronic pain management.
1 — Breathe your way to stress relief
“Breathing exercises in particular can be a very powerful way to reduce stress and relieve pain,” Morrow said.
She recommends doing the following breathing routine for five minutes each day.
First, lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place a pillow behind your head so that you feel comfortable and relaxed.
Place one hand on your sternum and one hand just below your rib cage, near your diaphragm.
Practice belly breathing. Breathe at a slow and controlled pace. Try to feel the hand on your belly raising up more than the hand on your chest.
2 — Keep moving as much as you can
“Most of the time, a flare-up in pain only requires a little bit of rest, not complete rest,” Morrow said. “This is particularly the case for lower back pain.”
Gentle movement, whether it’s walking or even just rocking your hips from side to side, will help lower back pain, she told Fox News Digital.
Exercise of any intensity or duration can also help to increase pain tolerance, a recent study found.
“The main takeaway is that engaging in habitual physical activity in your leisure time seems to be connected with your pain tolerance — the more active you are, the higher your tolerance is likely to be,” Anders Pedersen Årnes, the study’s lead author from the University Hospital of North Norway, told Fox News Digital in an email.
3 — Stay hydrated
Dehydration can help to relieve head pain, inflammation and joint pain, research shows.
“Being dehydrated affects all of the tissue in your body, including your muscles and joints,” Morrow said.
“It can also lead to headaches,” she said.
“Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, reach for another glass of water,” she added.
4 — Set aside time for simple stretches
“If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk and are experiencing upper back and neck pain, try doing upper back stretches several times a week,” Morrow suggested.
She shared a simple exercise with Fox News Digital.
Start by sitting in a chair with a back that reaches around your shoulder blades.
Place your hands behind your head and open your elbows.
Gently lean back until you feel the stretch across your chest and in your upper back. You can hold this for as long as it feels good.
Try holding for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.
5 — Be positive about your body
“When we start feeling a flare-up of low back or knee pain, for example, it is easy to think there’s something terribly wrong or that we’re broken,” said Morrow.
“But our bodies are incredible, resilient machines, and getting through a flare-up is a normal part of life.”
“You may not bounce back immediately, but take a moment to appreciate your body and the strength you do have.”