Many of us live with some type of chronic pain. It may be low back pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain from sitting at the computer for long hours. But almost all of us have experienced this on some level.
But what can you do to manage these types of aches and pains if you can’t or do not want to take over the counter pain medicine? Acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic are all excellent therapies for controlling and even eliminating these types of pains. But what can you do to be proactive at home?
This is one of the most common questions in my practice, and one that is surprisingly easy to answer. The combination of proper moderate exercise, stretching, diet, and stress reduction play a very important role in reducing chronic pain and all are within reach at home with little to no expense.
Get some moderate exercise. The human body is designed for movement, at least 30 minutes per days is recommended. Muscles and joints become weak and stiff without it which often causes increased pain. I caution if you are not on a program to consult with your health care practitioner before starting any type of exercise program, but working up to a good brisk walk will increase circulation and assist in joint lubrication and mobility, which often all by itself, greatly reduces pain.
Next newsletter we will explore additional methods for natural pain reduction, but until then, get off that couch and get walking.
Stretching is just as important, if not more important than exercise for joints and muscles, although most of us have not bothered since high school gym class. Stretching increases range of motion and flexibility which not only prevents further injury, but also creates space for the tissue to receive much needed nutrients and circulation. Stretching also helps the body rid the muscle system of waste and the chemical by products of muscle metabolism. I encourage all of my patients to stretch even if only for 10 minutes per day upon waking or before bed.
Diet may play the most important role in the war against chronic pain. Many of the foods we eat increase the amount of inflammation in the body directly effecting pain levels. Decreasing foods such as processed carbohydrates, refined sugars, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and animal proteins will all help to reduce pain. Adding foods that are high in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetable, and fish oils with omega 3 and omega 6 will help to body to decrease inflammation and eliminate pain. Not to mention you will probably lose weight in the process which will decrease the pressure on ailing joints and tendons.
Any type of stress reduction is also helpful to reduce pain. Get plenty of rest and practice deep breathing or meditation techniques for pain management. You may consult your health care practitioner for assistance and additional information on any or all of these helpful hints to live naturally pain free.
By Tanya Christensen LMT, LAc, MSOM, Dipl. Ac.
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