How Can Exercise and an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Help with Long-Term Pain?
If you have back pain, headaches, or facial pain, then you certainly aren’t alone. Long term or chronic pain affects 10 million Americans, owing to issues like arthritis, bone fractures, fibromyalgia, and sports injuries. The good news is that there are many steps one can take to reduce pain, starting with the reduction of stress and inflammation through exercise and the consumption of a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. Even if you are battling joint or other pain, you can often still undertake low impact exercises such as walking on a Matrix T50 Treadmill or enjoying a stress busting class of chair yoga. Once your workout is doctor approved, don’t stop moving!
Choosing Movement, Choosing Life
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), considered a ‘gold standard’ treatment for chronic or long-lasting pain, is focused on helping patients identify a level of activity their body is comfortable with. CBT can help you stay active if you have pain, and this is important, because inactivity can make joint pain and muscle weakness worse. CBT can also help with stress, by helping you identify triggers to anxiety or stress, and by teaching you how to tackle these triggers with fruitful behaviors. If you are facing chronic pain, ask your medical team about the suitability of both CBT and physiotherapy-led workout sessions, so you don’t take on more activity than your body can handle.
Working Out Indoors
If you are off work or school, you can stay fit by investing in a good treadmill or elliptical trainer. On days that pain is absent, you can enjoy an intense workout on a machine like the Matrix A50 Ascent Trainer. For extra back support, the XR6XI is ideal because it provides support for the lower back. The good thing about treadmills and elliptical trainers is that you can push yourself as much or as little as you need to. If you are considering starting a home gym, it is key to get professional advise regarding the best machine for you.
Following an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Pain is tied in to inflammation. Avoid the latter by avoiding foods that are high in sugar, flour, and other refined carbohydrates. Inflammation occurs when the immune system recognizes invasive chemicals. Inflammation can become chronic, which can worsen pain. Embrace a diet that comprises quality proteins, Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Foods that are particularly effective at fighting inflammation include tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel), berries, and oranges. Research also shows that black coffee can provide relief from headaches. If you frequently face headaches and migraines, ditch the instant coffee and opt for home brewed, freshly ground varieties.
Although diet and exercise are considered important natural therapies, there are many more that have been proven in various studies to lower pain. These include music therapy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and mindfulness activities such as yoga and meditation. Many of these have a strong mindfulness component; they command your attention and keep it ‘in the here and now’, freeing you from negative thought cycles. These activities lift the mood and self-confidence, helping you feel like improvement is possible.
If you have a condition that is causing pain, try to stay as active as you can, and try to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods from your diet. Consider yoga and other activities that battle stress. Remember that pain is a matter of perception; stress can exacerbate it, while mindfulness can help you believe in your ability to enjoy a life of quality despite your challenges.
Submitted by Jane Walters, Freelance Writer.