Chronic pain can put a big weight on a person's quality of life. When daily aches and pains start adding up, it is important to know how to cope without constantly reaching for a pill that masks pain for the sake of immediate relief. We have highlighted five simple strategies for reducing and preventing pain that is becoming a normal nuisance.
What can you do when you find yourself habitually reaching for that easy dose of Ibuprofen? How can you manage your pain if you are chronically concerned about how you are going to get through your daily activities?
Supplement. When the body is deficient in vital nutrients, inflammation and pain can run rampant. Food can be a major source of inflammation and taking action to ensure the right nutrition is supporting cellular integrity starts with nutritional supplements. The most important supplements for all kinds of pain include: Food-based Multi-vitamin, Turmeric, Magnesium, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Feeding your body at the cellular level will reduce inflammation, relax tense muscles, lubricate joints, and prevent future episodes of pain.
Water. Water is the first medicine. When the body is dehydrated, pain is enhanced due to stagnant, tense, inflamed muscles and tissue. Water will first flush toxins that have built up in the body and then start to hydrate the muscles. DRINK WATER ALL DAY. Eat a variety of water-dense foods (fruits and vegetables). Re-hydration takes time, so make it a goal to increase water intake over several weeks. Buy a re-fillable bottle and make a goal of drinking at least 3 bottles per day. If you are using the bathroom more, continue with the water and allow yourself the proper planning for more bathroom breaks. (Reduced pain is far more important than the convenience of fewer potty breaks.)
Water can also refer to the physical relief from immersion. Soaking in an epsom salt bath can do a lot for aching muscles. Swimming is also a great way to relieve stress on joints and promote gentle muscle movements.
Breathe. Sit up straight. Both feet flat on the floor. Relax your shoulders. Breathe until your belly fills up like a balloon. Slowly exhale. Repeat. Breathing into pain is an effective strategy for relaxing tense muscles and fixing poor posture. When the breath is chronically shallow (possibly due to pain) your body is flooding with stress hormones that bottleneck your energy and compromise circulation to your limbs and joints. Make this a daily practice. Ten slow deep breaths with good posture three times per day. The body will get used to this pattern of breathing and with practice your breath will get better and so will your posture.
Acupressure. Knowing how to release strategic pressure points on the body is a great tool for relieving pain. Acupressure stimulates the same points as acupuncture and uses gentle but firm pressure of the hands to release muscular tension, promote blood circulation, and stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. There are three major points on the body that are fast-acting pain relievers.
STOMACH 36 (ST36) A soft area below the knee on the outside of the lower leg.
LARGE INTESTINE 4 (LI4) A tender point on the web of the hand between the base of the thumb and index finger.
LIVER 3 (LV3) A soft tender point on the top of the foot between the first two toes.
Gentle Movement. Stagnant muscles will not heal properly. Even just 10-15 seconds of stretching can help lengthen tight, contracted muscles and increase blood flow. Start by stretching wherever you feel pain (slight head tilting side to side or seated forward bend, for example). Stretch to the point of discomfort- not pain- and hold for five slow, deep breaths. Gradually work up to the point of feeling muscles release or a set of three stretches. Yoga and tai chi practices help stretch and relax your muscles and soothe soreness and You Tube is a helpful source for videos that will guide you through gentle tai chi or yoga. The important thing to remember, is that this may feel uncomfortable but do not force pain. It is not important to make big progress all at once, but to simply open up the tense areas and promote better breathing and circulation, which will promote relaxation and ease of the stress response in the body.