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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Another data point in my own Pain Management Study

For the past several years, I have battled the chronic pain of a degeneratively arthritic left knee, left shoulder and disc in my lower back.

In the past year, I have felt the acute pain of a torn left pectineus muscle (groin), torn left Achilles tendon and a 3" incision surgery on my left knee to knock off and remove a 1-3/4" bone spur.

I'm sure there's a lot of people out there who are in much more pain than I am in but suffice it to say that me and Mr Pain know each other very well.

As a result of my long and steady walk down the Road of Pain, I have focused much time, effort and money on many different approaches for reducing and managing the Pain Train.

And here's what I've come up with:
  • If your pain is joint or skeletal related, you have to get as light as possible.  That means body weight. You need to get lean and mean.  If you are more than 20# overweight, you are likely causing yourself a lot of additional pain and fatigue from carrying around the extra weight. One data point that drives this home is something one orthopedic doctor told me.  For every extra pound of body weight, you increase the felt impact on your leg by 15 pounds each time you take a step.  Yes.  It's a 15 to 1 ratio. So if you are 50 lbs overweight, the felt impact on your leg is 750 lbs more than it should be with each step.  It's amazing that some people I see can even walk.
  • Joint and Soft Tissue inflammation is a huge source of pain.... and a lot of inflammation is caused by the foods we eat.  There's a lot of information out there on foods that cause inflammation and those that reduce or treat inflammation. You can do your own due diligence on this subject.  For me, I've found the Paleo diet which consists of lean meats, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds is the right recipe for me.  Avoiding gluten containing foods, bad carbs such as rice, potatoes and pasta, all dairy products and all processed foods will go a long way in reducing the pain of inflammation.
  • Getting enough restorative sleep is also a great antidote for pain.  I can tell a huge difference when I sleep deep and long.  I awake with my joint pain significantly reduced.
  • Reducing bad stress is another way of treating pain.  Notice I said bad stress.  Managed stress is OK. It can even distract you from pain by forcing you to focus on productive and constructive thoughts and work related to positive goals.  It's the unexpected and unmanageable stress that can play havoc with your body and mind and trigger a tightening of muscles and mind that leads to pain.
  • Last, and most importantly, Exercise has become my Silver Bullet to the Never Dieing Beast of Pain. And, in opposite manner, lack of exercise and movement and immobility are the Welcome Mat and Open Door inviting Mr. Pain to come in and enjoy himself.  
Let me relate an experience to you that happened just this week but that has been repeated over and over again over the last 10 years.

I've been working quite a bit lately and all of my work is done behind a computer sitting down.  Probably the worst travesty that can be placed on the human body.

I did 2 workouts on Monday - a morning PIYO Strength class at Anytime Fitness and an evening Praxis (CrossFit style) workout.  I rode my bike to each workout, a total of about 18 miles of cycling.

I had quite a few deliverables due on Tuesday so I committed myself to a full day of work.  I got up early and worked all day long - about 9 hours - without much break except to cook and eat a couple of meals and go up and down the stairs a couple of times.  I didn't do my normal stretching routine in the morning and no bike riding at all.  By the end of the day I was in some pain.

I went to bed pretty stiff and woke up the next morning in significantly more pain.  My left knee was even more swollen, stiff and painful than it normally is and my lower back was killing me.

I snorted down about 3 cups of strong coffee, did my best to get through my short stretching routine, took a hot shower, dressed and jumped on my bike for my ride to my Wednesday morning Dance and Stretch class at Anytime Fitness.  I was so stiff and in so much pain that the stretching / yoga style class was causing me excruciating pain.  One lady came up to me after class and asked me if I was in pain and I told her.... Yes.... Intense Pain.  "Yeah.... I could tell you were really hurting" was her reply.

I came back to my condo, ate, worked a few hours and then did my bike ride to my Wednesday evening Praxis workout. My left knee was killing me and the ever present lower back pain was even more ever present. I literally gritted my teeth and forced myself through the Strength portion on Bench Press getting a 235# bench and then the 12 min AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) workout consisting of 13 - 185# deadlifts, 150 jump ropes and 6 - 24" box jumps per round.  I managed 3-1/2 rounds in the 12 minutes.

I turned the pedals over the best I could on the 5-1/2 mile uphill ride back and ate a huge evening meal and collapsed into bed.

Guess what?

I woke up this morning nearly pain free.  Knee felt much better.  Lower back wasn't hurting.  My flexibility and movement was much better.  Go figure.  Intense Exercise = Pain Relief.

It was just another little experiment that has been conducted over and over again in my own little Pain Lab and the results are pretty simple, straightforward, repeatable and conclusive.

Exercise reduces Pain.

And Intense and Frequent Exercise reduces Pain Intensely and Consistently.

For me, I literally cannot go a day without exercising.

If I do, I am in significant pain.

I cannot emphasize this point strongly enough.

If you are in Pain.....


Do something!  Walk, Stretch, Swim, Squat, Lift your Arms over your head, Ride a Bike, Do a Yoga Class, Lift some Weights, Stand up and sit down 50 times.... Anything!

But for God's sake, for your own sake, for pain's sake,

Don't just sit there and let the Pain consume you.

Manage Your Pain with Weight Management, a diet that supports Weight Management and Inflammation Reduction, getting enough Sleep, controlling your stress and Exercising as Intensely and as often as you can.

Pain is the Enemy of a Healthy and Happy Lifestyle.

Plan your Strategy on the War against Pain.

And then Fight the Battle with Pain Everyday.

It is a War You Can Win.

It is a War Worth Winning.

It is a War You Have to Win.

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