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Do you suffer from some kind of physical pain? Most people experience some kind of acute or chronic pain in their lifetime. There are various causes. Bad posture and movement patterns eventually take over. Stress and poor diet or lack of adequate water intake are other culprits. Unfortunately, the way we tend to “do” our lives in most first world cultures isn’t especially conducive to ideal function of any of our physical systems. We aren’t actually meant to sit, and a constant diet of fast food and mainstream media isn’t good for our brains or bodies. We are meant to be in a certain state of alignment, or balance, physically, chemically, and emotionally in order for things to function like they are supposed to.

One solution to the pain problem is to take medication. In some cases, that can be an easy fix. Get the occasional headache? An aspirin is fine and can resolve the issue easily. In the case of an acute injury, such as pulling a muscle or spraining an ankle, some rest, ice and ibuprofen will do the trick. Unfortunately, long term use of things like NSAIDS or even ibuprofen can be hard on the liver and end up being counterproductive and ineffective.

Do you suffer from some kind of physical pain? Most people experience some kind of acute or chronic pain in their lifetime. There are various causes. Bad posture and movement patterns eventually take over. Stress and poor diet or lack of adequate water intake are other culprits. Unfortunately, the way we tend to “do” our lives in most first world cultures isn’t especially conducive to ideal function of any of our physical systems. We aren’t actually meant to sit, and a constant diet of fast food and mainstream media isn’t good for our brains or bodies. We are meant to be in a certain state of alignment, or balance, physically, chemically, and emotionally in order for things to function like they are supposed to.

One solution to the pain problem is to take medication. In some cases, that can be an easy fix. Get the occasional headache? An aspirin is fine and can resolve the issue easily. In the case of an acute injury, such as pulling a muscle or spraining an ankle, some rest, ice and ibuprofen will do the trick. Unfortunately, long term use of things like NSAIDS or even ibuprofen can be hard on the liver and end up being counterproductive and ineffective.

 

 

Frequently, with long-term or chronic pain, we will seek medical advice. The best case scenario when it comes to structural pain is you go see a doctor get a prescription for physical therapy, which is an awesome way to learn stretches and exercises that can alleviate pain from either an acute injury or chronic pain. Unfortunately, the best case scenario isn’t always what happens, and the cause of the physical pain may be a result of something chemical or emotional. It generally goes a couple of different ways. One thing that happens is the doctor might be busy and stressed himself, dealing with countless people who show up looking for a quick fix. They know a drug will help, and need to get to the next patient ASAP. If the condition has persisted long enough, they may want to send you for x-rays or an MRI. Depending on the collection of symptoms, this is a wise course of action. A good doctor will also discuss some lifestyle factors that can contribute to your pain, such as diet and stress. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t prescribe physical therapy for structural pain, and don’t discuss lifestyle factors. They will prescribe stronger pain medication and send you on your way. Guess how often that can lead to an opioid addiction?

Guess what else?There is SO MUCH we can do to address our own pain! With some basic understanding of how the body works and a little bit of practice and determination, it is possible to not only minimize pain, but feel good in our minds and bodies and “do” our lives with ease.Here are 10 basic things that can go a long way towards accomplishing this:

“PAIN IS THE BODY’S VOICE, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY”

1)PAY ATTENTION. Anything we do that takes us out of the physical alignment we’re meant to be in for too long will eventually cause pain, dysfunction, or disease. Paying attention to how we do what we do on a regular basis for an extended period of time is simple, but not always easy. The way we sit, sleep, stand, and walk our habits with origins from very early in life. The good news is habits can be changed.

2)STRETCH WHERE YOU ARE TIGHT. The adage “use it or lose it” definitely applies when it comes to the body. We have joints for a reason, and if they don’t get moved through the range of motion each one is capable of, we lose the ability to do so. Our activities of daily living create patterns of imbalance and misalignment. The best movement for you is to stretch where you’re tight and strengthen where you’re weak. The most basic stretches and strengthening exercises will not only counteract your particular activities of daily living, it will make it easier to do them. For most people, a basic yoga class is an adequate form of stretching.

3)STRENGTHEN WHERE YOU ARE WEAK. Ditto to the previous step on the necessity of movement, and the second component is strengthening where you are weak. There is no substitute for strength! It makes everything in life easier. It does not require a gym or expensive equipment, and for most people, basic bodyweight exercises are adequate. Yoga is also a viable routine to achieve the basic strength necessary to recover and maintain alignment for optimal physical function. If your activities of daily living involve more strenuous work such as lifting heavy objects, a more specific routine of resistance training may be in order.

4)REST. Adequate sleep is crucial to optimal function. Sleep is when the body repairs and rejuvenates itself. Long term lack of sleep effects your chemistry, which disallows reparation and rejuvenation. Insomnia is compounded by unabated stress, lack of adequate hydration, and a crappy diet. Move more, eat a healthy diet, drink more water, and find ways to resolve your stress, and you will sleep better.

5)EAT A HEALTHY DIET. What you put in and on your body affects your health. A huge culprit in low back pain is constipation. Pain medication will make this even worse. When we get the nutrients our body needs, we can continue to metabolize them efficiently, feeding all of our systems so they can do what they are supposed to do. Aim for whole foods that are minimally processed. We need a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and good fats. This step to achieving relief of pain and ideal physical function can be slightly more challenging, but tastes tend to be habit, and habits can be changed if we are willing to remember our priorities.

6)DRINK MORE WATER. This is probably the easiest thing you can do to alleviate physical pain. Getting enough water will help you have more energy, think more clearly, and feel better. Learn to love water! This is also a mental challenge for some people, but once again, what are your priorities? Setting an alarm to remind yourself to drink water is a good idea if it’s not your habit.

7)BREATHE DEEPLY. Your body has a built-in defense mechanism called the “fight or flight reflex”. Any time you are faced with fear, apprehension, or anxiety, your body responds in a variety of ways. This includes the shutting down of digestion, the speeding up of blood pressure, and shallow breathing. The way to counteract all of that is to breathe deeply.

8)USE HOT AND COLD THERAPY. Exposure to temperature extremes can speed healing and contribute to overall well-being and longevity. Ice on a specific injury for the first 48 hours is ideal to calm inflammation. After that, alternating 20 minutes of heat and 20 minutes of ice will help reduce swelling and move lymph. Long term, the use of saunas, Epsom salt baths, hot tubs, and regular cardiovascular exercise where the heart rate gets elevated are helpful for moving circulation and have even been proven to help with anxiety and depression. Ice baths or cold pools is helpful for calming general inflammation and easing aches and pain.

9) FIND OUTLETS FOR STRESS. This is different for everybody, but must be done! Many visits to the doctor for random symptoms such as digestive distress, respiratory issues, and heart trouble can be attributed to stress (remember the Fight or Flight reflex?). Doctors will often prescribe a medication instead of asking about your lifestyle, and popping a pill, while easy, can compound the issue, and is like cutting the wire to your Check Engine light. A healthier approach is to address the stress. Learn coping mechanisms. Talk to a mental health professional. Get hypnosis. Write in a journal.Take up a hobby. Exercise. Breathe deeply. Choosing to respond to stressful situations by acting out or living in denial is another habit, and habits can be change.

10)GET HANDS-ON THERAPY AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. There is no substitute for human touch. A good massage is life-altering. Other helpful modalities are acupuncture and chiropractic.

These techniques have been around for thousands of years, and they work. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The path to minimizing pain and achieving balance physically, chemically, and emotionally can be long, depending on your age, genetics, trauma, and lifestyle factors. However, it is never too late. With a minimum of willingness and persistence, exponential results are possible. Taking the first step can be the hardest, but it is the way to stop the insanity and feel better. What are your priorities? What do you see for yourself long-term? Start today!!

Recipe Of The Month

Breakfast Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 red, 1 purple, and 1 white potato, scrubbed and diced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (choose cans that aren’t lined with BPA)
  • 3 collard green leaves (or other greens), shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups baby salad greens

Directions:

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy skillet over low heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir constantly, about 1 to 2 minutes, until browned.

Add the water and increase heat to boiling. When water is boiling, add potatoes, sea salt, pepper, turmeric, oregano, and basil.

Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the black beans, collard greens, and diced garlic. Cook until the potatoes are soft, continuing to stir often. Add a tablespoon or two of water as needed to prevent potatoes from sticking to pan.

Divide the salad greens among 6 plates and top with the cooked potato mixture.

Makes 6 servings