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Benefits of Meditation for Aching Joints

Medically reviewed in March 2021

Got a creaky knee or a sore neck? Take a deep breath and say "Om."

Yep, research suggests that people who practice Zen meditation not only are far less sensitive to pain but also are better at coping with it.

Not feeling so hot
In a study, pain thresholds seemed to be much higher for Zen meditators than for nonmeditators. When exposed to a heat source, the Zen meditators could tolerate higher temps. What's more, the meditators did not find the pain as unpleasant or as intense as the control group did. Talk about tolerance! Here are some other ways you can tap the power of your mind to relieve pain.

A placebo, or the real deal?
Although more research is needed to confirm these findings, there may be both a psychological and physiological component behind meditation-as-coping-mechanism. Just by virtue of the fact that meditation helps people feel more relaxed and less reactive, it makes a good candidate as a natural pain reliever. Meditation may also increase pain tolerance by triggering the release of pain-squelching feel-good hormones in the brain and by decreasing stress hormones.

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