Oh My Aching ____!

Over the past 50 years, we have become more and more sedentary. Because of this inactive lifestyle, we have pain. You may think that exercise is the last thing you should be doing while you are in pain, when in most cases, it is exactly what you should be doing. Not moving causes us to stiffen up and become tense. Movement helps us to be more limber and relieves tension.

Do you suffer from back pain? I do periodically, which began after a car accident injury many years ago. Did you know that back pain is one of the top reasons for disability? Did you know that you can prevent and relieve back pain by exercising? The old prescription for back pain was rest. The new prescription is movement. Personally, I can attest to inactivity causing more pain and movement relieving pain. One of the best things that prevents me from stiffening up is walking and moving around.

Another common reason for pain is being on the computer for extended periods of time. When I say computer, I mean the computer at your desk, your laptop, your iPad, your tablet, your smartphone, your gaming device, and any other gadget you use for long periods with your shoulders in a permanent shrug. Remember when your mom told you to stop making that face because you would get stuck like that? There is actually some truth to that. As we are one with our computer devices, our shoulders and necks are held in a tense position and they get “stuck” like that, creating muscle imbalances and, you guessed it, pain.

Pain management does not have to include drugs, prescription or over-the-counter products. Many drugs can result in unwanted side effects. If you experience acute, or short-term, pain or have had chronic, or long-term, pain in a particular area of your body, you may be able to manage your pain with specific exercises. If you are like most people, you feel lost when it comes to knowing the right exercises that will relieve your pain. Over the past several years, I have learned effective ways to relieve pain through exercise and have taught many people to relieve their own pain. Following a thorough assessment, I determine which exercises are best for correcting muscle imbalances and relieving pain, which may include strengthening exercises, stretches, myofascial release, core engagement, posture corrections throughout the day, cardiovascular exercise, and others. I can teach you simple exercises that you can do at home, at work, or anywhere to relieve pain on your own.

Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, hiking, bicycling, and swimming, can relieve tension and quiet the mind. It gets you away from your electronic devices, away from work and away from your life stressors.

Following are the official recommendations for cardiovascular exercise from American College of Sports Medicine,www.acsm.org:

  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
  • One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
  • Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
  • People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.