Preventing pain is simpler than you think.
The basic principles!
Posture – Your posture affects your pain. Remember that loading or stressing your tissues can cause your complaint. If you want to feel better sit upright, stand tall and keep your core muscles engaged. Postural strain is the most common complaint I see. Most people know they have poor posture yet do nothing to change it. Check your lounge and make sure you sit upright with a pillow supporting you in necessary. Spending too much time on a notebook or computer can also be a culprit. Take frequent short breaks even for a minute and get off your chair. If you work in an office get rid of the bin under the desk and get up and take your rubbish to the main bin when necessary. This gives you the perfect chance for a break in the same posture.
Sleep – Your sleep plays an important role on your pain for two main reasons. Our mood is affected by sleep quality and we can tire and load tissues with poor sleep posture / position. I always recommend when practical sleeping on your back or side. Sometimes when you are in pain using a pillow under your knees whilst lying on your back can help. I hear all the time “I can’t sleep on my back or side”. Well you can. It’s just that you don’t believe that its possible. So start by falling asleep the way you like then when you wake to turn through the night, make sure you go to your back or side. You will be tired and will get back to sleep in no time. Then over a period of a week or two slowly begin to start to sleep in the desired position.
Mood / Mind – How you think directly impacts the way you feel. So try this right now. Look up to the ceiling and think of something sad. You can’t, can you? That’s because our mind cannot access it’s feelings whilst looking up. There are so many other ways we can use our mind to affect our pain. If you’re feeling beat and struggling to cope with your pain remember that if you distract yourself with things you enjoy your pain levels always change. This may sound simple but the simple things make big changes.
Food / Diet – Different foods have impact on different chemical states in the body. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels. Other foods can naturally act to eliminate waste and reduce pain levels. Consider that you are what you eat and look into your diet as a cause / solution to your pain.
Exercise / Activity – 20 minutes of daily exercise is enough to affect your cardiovascular fitness and decrease overall pain levels. Exercise also releases endorphins which are your bodies natural opiate like substance to give you the high after activity. Also the movement is good for mechanical pain. That means that the pain you experience is due to pressure on muscles, joints and bones and is generally caused by poor movement. So if a area is placed under tension and load it feels the strain and tells the brain that it is sore. Movement can free up the area and reduce the load at that one area.
Hydration – Dehydration is still so common in clinic even though there is no real reason why it should be. Water is so useful for reducing headaches, arthritic pain and general irritability. Carry water with you when you work or drive or keep it close by. Most people will reach for it automatically if it is close and you will start drinking more in no time. Also remember that caffeine and tea may dehydrate you, so your morning coffee is not a good source of hydration.
Pain / Puzzle – I like to refer to a patient’s complaint as a jigsaw puzzle. Just like a puzzle your complaint has many pieces. Solving it never is about examining one piece. Understanding each piece, recognising its importance and working out how to fit the puzzle together is the key to solving your problems. Often patients hold so many pieces yet do not recognise that they are in control of the problem the most. That is why information like this is so important. It is the basis of every consultation I provide and can help solve someone’s problems quickly.