More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, according to WebMD. If you are one of the many people who experience pain on a regular basis, you don't have to suffer in silence. If pain is a problem for you, and you would like to treat it naturally, read on. We have 12 tips to help you, grouped into four common sources of frequent pain.
When you're in pain - especially when your back hurts, which makes it hard to do just about anything - your first instinct may be to lie in bed until it passes. But that may not actually be the best course of action. Web MD reports that people with short-term back pain - as opposed to long-term, chronic pain - often feel better the less they stay in bed.
You've heard it before - we've all been told to stand up straight since we were kids - and now that were grown we hear it all the time in health media. But it bears repeating. Maintaining good posture at all times - at your desk, in the car, cooking, doing chores - contributes to a healthy back. And a healthy back means less pain.
A spine that bends and flexes freely is less likely to be injured. A body that moves freely, through a full range of motion, stays in balance and out of pain. Conversely, a body that is tight and tense in some places is out of balance and more prone to injury.
Practice regular stretching, warming up first with a few minutes of walking around. Concentrate on the parts of your body that seem to carry the most tension. For many people, the backs of the thighs and the upper back and shoulders are often tight.
Stretch every day for a week and you'll notice a marked improvement in your range of motion. You may even notice you feel better even without having known you were feeling bad at all, particularly when you get out of bed in the morning.
Ice And Heat
If you do experience back pain, try applying ice and heat. Some notes:
Some people respond better to ice treatment, some prefer heat, and some prefer to alternate.
Remember to protect your skin by using a towel between the heat/ice source and your bare skin.
Limit use to 10 or 15 minutes at a time, with 12 to 20 minutes in between treatments.
Stiff, Sore Shoulders
Keep A Journal.
Stiffness in your shoulders is often caused by stress and tension. Keeping a journal is one way to process the things in your life that could be causing you stress. You don't even have to hang on to what you write. Writing out all your problems, and then watching the shredder tear the paper to bits, can be very therapeutic!
Practicing yoga is another way to relieve pain by relieving stress, increasing flexibility, and strengthening and stretching out the parts of your body that hold tension and stress.
Sleep has an incredible ability to heal, but if you aren't sleeping well or getting enough sleep you could not only be missing the healing qualities of sleep but you may also be sleeping your way into pain.
If you sleep on your side, use a pillow between your knees to keep yourself in proper spinal alignment and prevent yourself from slumping over. If you sleep on your back, use a pillow under your knees and experiment with different types of pillows or neck rolls for your head. You may even be most comfortable with no pillow.
Take frequent breaks from your desk or other tasks that have you in one position for an extended period of time to get up and stretch. Try this one:
Sit up straight, as if you were being suspended from the ceiling by a string, your head in line with your spine and your hips directly under your head.
Raise your arms out straight to your sides, palms up. Reach back, as if you were trying to touch the wall behind you with your thumbs. Hold that position for a few seconds. Imagine that your chest is widening.
Now bring your arms in front of you, with your hands together.
Push your hands, palms together and facing out, toward the wall in front of you. Imagine the space between your shoulders is widening.
Lift your arms, hands still together, above your head and reach up.
Let your hands go, bring your arms down to your sides, and roll your shoulders back.
Carrying extra weight around can severely stress your joints, causing chronic pain. Walking puts pressure on your knees equal to two or three times what you weigh. The more you weigh, the more you compound the force pressing on your joints through simple movement.
This becomes a problem when obesity and the accompanying pressure on joints makes it too difficult to exercise. If this is a problem, consider talking to a personal trainer on how to use a combination of healthy eating and gentle exercise to lose weight.
One of the ways your trainer may suggest to exercise without stressing joints is water aerobics. The water acts as a double-sided benefit, supporting your weight and decreasing the pressure on your joints while also acting as resistance against your muscles, ensuring you get a great workout.
When you exercise in cool water, you're also protected against overheating. However, you do still sweat, so don't forget to hydrate. As it happens, hydration is also important for joint health!
Many people find relief from pain in acupuncture. If you would like to explore this option, follow these tips to find a practitioner:
Ask for referrals from friends.
Look for an experienced practitioner.
Ask for a free consultation to meet the practitioner.
Communicate your expectations and ask the practitioner whether they are realistic.
Gentle Physical Therapy
When you think of physical therapy, you may first think of the grueling rehabilitation that accident victims go through to learn to use injured limbs again. But physical therapy can also be the gentle, nurturing practice that encourages stiff, painful joints through a healthy range of motion.
Consult with a therapist who specializes in joint pain to see if PT is right for you. Your therapist may recommend hydrotherapy, whole body vibration, or other gentle techniques.
For general pain, treatment focuses mainly on relaxation and distraction.
A long, leisurely soak in a warm bath can help relax tense muscles and release tension which may be causing pain. Try adding Epsom salts for added benefit, or put a few drops of a favorite bath additive into the water.
Studies have shown that, contrary to what you might think, exercise can help keep pain at bay. Working out can be the last thing you want to do when you're in pain, but as with back pain or sore joints, gentle exercise like walking, swimming, or whole body vibration may actually help relieve pain.
Known as one of the most relaxing scents, lavender can be helpful in pain relief. There are many ways to use it, from warm or cold compresses for headaches to creating a relaxing, scented hair spray. Read about tips for using lavender oil and choose a couple of ways that work best for you.
Taking a few minutes at beneficial times - every morning when you wake up, or when your pain is especially bad - to be still, close your eyes, and calm your mind can go a long way in preventing and treating pain. Try this exercise:
Sit or lie still, with your eyes closed.
Focus on your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose. Try to slow your breathing to a restful pace.
Next, imagine a peaceful scene, a favorite person, a personal mantra, or continue to focus on your breathing. Let everything else fall away from your attention.
Part of treating pain is understanding that its just as deserving of attention as any other disease. Treat yourself well and you'll feel better!
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Kimberly Paine is a fitness instructor, writer, and mom. She writes the health and wellness blog for HyperVibe, a whole body vibration company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives. You can read more from her at http://au.hypervibe.com.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.