As a patient said whom I just treated today, I am looked at as a gestalt health care practitioner. This means that I look at the patient as a whole, rather than in parts.
I look at how one area of the body can affect another area of the body. I look at how we can positively affect the entire body through strength training, stretching, aerobic exercise and nutrition. They all work together to make up the total picture of someone’s overall health.
Many people who are in pain, don’t look like it. Especially if it is a musculoskeletal problem, then the person can look fine, while suffering from debilitating pain.
Western medical practitioners are not well equipped to deal with pain, especially pain that arises from the musculoskeletal (bones and muscles) system.
Muscle injuries have a way of sticking around and getting wired into your system. You may think that since it is only a muscle then it can’t cause that much pain. Torn muscles can be more painful, and take longer to heal, than bone fractures.
When a muscle is injured it falls into neurological patterns of spasm and inflammation. Once these patterns are established, they are with you for life. Muscles can fall out of these patterns, but will eventually fall back into them throughout the course of your life.
If someone is suffering from musculoskeletal pain such as torn, spasmed and inflamed muscles, or any type of arthritis, it can be very hard to recognize that they are in pain just from looking at them. Just because someone doesn’t look like they are in pain, doesn’t mean that they aren’t in pain.
Statistically speaking, 116 million Americans are in chronic pain on a daily basis. That’s a lot of people. If you are one of those millions of people, then you cannot jump right into an exercise routine.
If you haven’t exercised in years, and are in pain, then don’t fall for the marketing of gimmicky weight loss routines. If you are in middle age or older and haven’t exercised in years then chances are that you will never get 6 pack abs, or lose 40 pounds in 2 weeks. Maybe you could temporarily, if you made yourself miserable. But it would be short lived and compromise your health in other ways.
If you haven’t exercised in years and are in pain, then you want something that will help you to feel better. Not something to make you ripped, huge and lean.
If you haven’t exercised in years then you need to ease your way into exercise. You need to take 1 to 2 months to get yourself in shape to exercise. Only after exercising consistently for 1 to 2 months will you be able to do a hard workout without hurting yourself.
Your body has to get used to the motions before going hard with them. If you want to avoid injury, then start out easy with exercising. Rome wasn’t built in 1 day, and neither will your health and well being. You can’t go from doing nothing more strenuous than walking to the kitchen to get food from the refrigerator to sweating and working out hard during exercise. You have to ease your way into the transition. You will see a difference as you continue to exercise consistently. But it takes time. It won’t happen overnight. It won’t happen in one week. It will take months of consistent exercise.
Exercise can be used to reduce pain and help you to feel better, if used in the right way. Doing a weight lifting exercise with little to no weight can help with mobilization and can loosen up a joint. I regularly recommend that if you are in pain, then do weight lifting exercises for that area, with no weight. This loosens up the joint, increases blood flow to the area, reduces inflammation, and helps it to feel better.
Even when not in pain, exercise can be used to keep pain away and keep joints, muscles, and bones healthy. If you exercise in the right way, you can use it to keep injuries and pain at bay, and keep yourself moving and feeling good.
The trick is to go easy. The main benefits from exercise come from doing it consistently. Not from going hard.
The main benefits from aerobic exercise are gained during the 1st 20 minutes. That is when you will lower your chances for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, etc. After the 1st 20 minutes, you are mainly just burning calories.
The benefits from weight lifting can be had from doing low weights with high repetitions. If you lift weight that is too heavy, then you will cause your joints to breakdown. This will irritate arthritic joints, and if you don’t already have arthritis, then it can make you predisposed to it. Too much pounding from heavy weights will cause the joints to break down. Too much impact on the joints will cause them to break down quickly.
I you are not a professional athlete then there is no reason to train like one. Most of us just want to feel good for the rigors of real life. Most of us are training for the real world. Most of us want to be able to do the mundane things in life (gardening, golfing, lifting bags into the overhead compartment on a plane, carrying luggage, walking, biking, etc) without pain.
Exercising at a moderate level consistently will give you the best chance possible of living a long life while being able to do the activities that you want to do.
Don’t be limited by your body. Exercise smarter, not harder. This is the Pain Free Way.
Here are a few other articles that I wrote on the topic of exercise and pain: