Pain is a complex puzzle. For certain cases, it takes complex solutions to help solve that puzzle. In some cases, the individual’s pain is so debilitating that it requires the use of X-rays or other special imaging to visualize the problem that is occurring in the spine or extremities. It may be appropriate to use any of the following: Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, massage/bodywork, yoga and psychological therapy. In some cases, it may even require over-the-counter or prescription medication (although the goal is to avoid relying on these because of the potential side effects). But there are definitely things you can do that can help you prevent and treat chronic pain. Let’s explore these strategies that, as you might have guessed, are all related to one another.
1. Posture: You have probably been told at different times of your life about the importance of good posture. “Sit up straight” or “don’t slouch” are probably familiar phrases to you. Proper posture is difficult to attain, so don’t stress yourself out about it. When you are sitting, put a rolled-up towel or sweatshirt in the small of your back. Sit all the way back to the rear of the chair so you feel the support in your back. When you stand, stand against the wall or a post so you can maintain erect posture. It is important to strengthen your core muscles, the muscles along the spine. Yoga, Pilates or a specific workout program with weights will help you achieve this. You may want to find a personal trainer to help you focus on specific exercises to help you achieve your goals.
2. Balance: As you develop strength, you begin to develop balance. Many of the positions utilized in yoga, Pilates and weight training work specifically on balance. Would you believe that your feet also have a lot to do with balance? The three arches you have in your feet must all be supported in order for the rest of your body to have good support as well. If one or more of the arches is flat, it can significantly affect the stress to your joints and your ability to exercise efficiently. Ask your chiropractor about analyzing your feet to see if you need arch supports.
3. Spinal Load and Stability: Understanding how to exercise or perform any type of sporting activity is crucial to your health. How many people do you know who lift weights incorrectly? On a daily basis, I see patients who have hurt themselves with physical activity. By being careful and doing your exercises properly, you can reduce the amount of spinal load (stress) and instability you create for your body. I cannot tell you how important it is to make sure your feet and all of the joints above them are healthy and moving properly. When your joints move well, you can perform activities optimally and with minimal stress on your body.
4. Alignment: Exercising makes your muscles stronger, which also helps maintain structural and bony alignment. Chiropractic care is hopefully a regular part of your life. Visits to your chiropractor at a frequency you both find appropriate will help you maintain your alignment.
Keep in mind that pain may be indicative of a serious underlying condition. Always talk to your doctor about any pain you are experiencing, particularly if it does not go away or worsens with time.
Kevin M. Wong, DC, a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West in San Jose, Calif., practices full-time in Orinda, Calif. He is also an instructor for Foot Levelers, Inc.