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All of us experience pain from time to time. In fact, low back pain and joint pain are consistently the top 5 reasons people visit their doctor. Unless there was a specific reason, most of the time, pain doesn’t occur from one event. Usually there are compounding forces that contribute to our pain. Often this relates to the things that we don’t always do well, especially if we are stressed. Lifestyle factors like sleep, eating well, and exercise are big contributors. .
Pain can be a vicious cycle when we don’t incorporate healthy habits. Imagine you have a stressful day tomorrow. Your mind might be racing to prepare for appointments or meetings while you are trying to sleep. Then you are tired and may not make the best food choices. You are tired or busy, so maybe you don’t have time for exercise. You didn’t have a chance to release your stress and now you have another poor night’s sleep. And so, the cycle continues.
From your friendly PT, movement is a point in the cycle that we have some control over. This can simply be walking around your house or office every hour or doing some stretching right after getting up or before going to bed. Movement helps to stretch tight hip and low back muscles and helps to bring more blood flow to the tight areas. This improved circulation of blood helps to carry away inflammatory chemicals that can contribute to pain and bring healthy nutrients back to those sore regions.
Part of getting pain under control is breaking the vicious cycles that feed off of each other. Start small and make one change at a time. Try getting up and moving every 30-90 minutes during the day. Drink one or two more glasses of water to ward off dehydration which can increase stiffness. Add a healthy snack or fruit or veggie to your main meal. Finally, try some gentle movement or belly breathing before turning off the light to help you sleep. Sleep is when our bodies do most of our healing, so a lousy night’s sleep decreases our body’s chance to get caught up.
Pain is part of being human. However, there are healthy ways to help to manage or decrease pain. These are good places to start. If, however, you have pain that doesn’t decrease, please reach out to your friendly PT to help you on the road to recovery.