Want To Be Pain-Free? Check These 5 Things to Reduce Pain NowJun 30, 2019
Pilates is perfect for assisting many people to take control of their health and live pain-free lives. For some people, however, the results can be slower with more flare-ups along the way. What other factors could be influencing this?
Here are 5 key areas to examine in your daily life to ensure you are giving yourself the best opportunity possible to be pain-free. Sometimes just a small change to your daily habits can significantly decrease pain levels.
Ensuring you have consistent levels of high-quality sleep is essential for good health. Research has confirmed that inadequate sleep can significantly increase pain levels, as we become less resilient to pain with insufficient rest, magnifying the pain level. Unfortunately, if you are in pain, sleep can be difficult but relaxation in the form of breathing or meditation techniques, to calm the nervous system before sleep, can really assist in achieving better quality sleep.
Check your mattress is on the firmer side but not too hard. If you roll into the middle get a new one immediately, as you aren't receiving any support at all. Having experienced this personally after inheriting a secondhand mattress from a relative in my early 20s, I woke up barely able to move with lower back pain every morning despite never having had back pain previously. A new mattress worked instantly - no more back pain. If you sleep on your side, make sure your pillow allows you to keep your neck in line with your spine and is not too low or high. Side sleeping with a pillow between your knees is a good sleep position while sleeping on your back is also beneficial. Try to avoid stomach sleeping as this puts the muscles and nerves of the neck under strain as your head is at an extreme angle to the side, particularly if you suffer from migraines or neck pain. Several of my client over the years have been able to eliminate neck pain and shoulder pain by changing their sleeping position. It can be difficult at first but it's definitely possible.
Check Your Footwear
Good supportive shoes appropriate for their task can prevent a never-ending list of issues that can impact the feet directly or cause issues above them such as ankle, knee, hip and back pain. Running and walking shoes should be updated at least every 6 months depending on the quality of the shoe and the length of time you spend running. As the majority of people run or walk on hard surfaces, your shoes are the only protection between your foot and the ground so it really is worth investing in high-quality shoes to protect your joints.
Also, beware of ill-fitting shoes that place stress on certain parts of your foot, reduce circulation or are very uncomfortable as wearing these types of shoes continually can cause painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Morton's neuroma for example. It's far better to throw away ill-fitting shoes than to suffer the long-term consequences of chronic pain.
Drinking water has so many benefits and can help to reduce back pain. The fluid-filled discs between each vertebra of the spine contain collagen and water. These discs are like shock absorbers for the spine and lose water during the day and need to be rehydrated during the night. If you haven't drunk enough water they can't replenish and become dried out and damaged potentially resulting in back pain. So stay hydrated, both in the summer heat and winter when we often aren't as thirsty but can become dehydrated in artificial environments.
Make sure you have an awareness of being able to hold yourself in well-aligned posture in both sitting and standing. When standing side on to a mirror check the placement of your weight, not leaning too far forward or too far back so you have a balance between the muscles at the front and back of your body. Rather than thinking of shoulders down, think of lengthening out through the crown of your head as you lengthen from your spine. Imagine a string on your breastbone lengthening up and out at the same time. This will prevent you from collapsing into the chest and you will look and feel taller. Check your knees are very slightly softened and that you aren't locking back into the joints. You will move in and out of this ideal posture but having the awareness to return to good posture is the key. Well-aligned posture helps your body function efficiently placing less stress on the joint structures and can contribute to being pain-free.
For many people in chronic pain, their natural instinct is to rest or remain as still as possible. Unfortunately, this is the worst approach. Our bodies are designed to move and small, controlled movements such as modified Pilates exercises can provide relief and eventually lead to being pain-free. The key is to start with small movements and very gradually increase the range and intensity. Be guided by how you feel and always listen to your body. As Joseph Pilates said "Change Happens through Movement and Movement Heals"
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