Relaxation Techniques for Pain

Relaxation Techniques for Pain
geralt/Pixabay

Relaxation Techniques for Pain

These last few weeks have been more painful than most.  My pain wants to take control of my life.  Instead of letting that happen, I decided to continue my fight to conquer it.  I decided that researching some relaxation techniques for pain might be helpful.  

From that I decided to see what I could find that might help me feel better.  I hope it might help you feel better.  

The following list is not all inclusive.  I am sure there are more techniques.  But why not give one of them a try?  Can’t hurt you, because no medication is involved.  But they will take time and discipline. 

Deep Breathing

What is deep breathing?  There are many ways to practice this.  The practice is in the name.  You breathe deeply.  

When you do this, the process sends more oxygen into the blood and into the brain.  This releases endorphins into your bloodstream.  These are “feel good” hormones which help relax you and reduce your stress. 

There appear to be several forms of deep breathing.  If you want to get started right now, try this simple form.

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position.  Put one hand on your belly (just below your ribs) and the other on your chest.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, causing your belly to push out.  Your chest should not move. 
  • Breathe out through your mouth, using your belly to push all the air out.
  • Do this up to 10 times.  Notice how you feel afterwards.

You should be calmer and less anxious.  By pushing those endorphins through your system you should feel less pain too.

Divert Your Attention

Also called distraction, this involves forcing your brain to focus on something other than your pain.  I guess you could say I am doing this right now by researching and writing this article.  As I study new ideas, my mind can only focus on the work, and not the pain.

I found a great article on how to get started with practicing distraction.  Click here to see the article.  They suggest up to 20 activities to distract you.  Very helpful.  And the video of the children speaking about distraction is so sweet.  

That link gave me some encouragement too.   Playing a game on an app (which I do), will make you feel better.  I’m not going to berate myself when I do that.  I didn’t realize I was managing my pain this way.  

Walk

First of all, I find this particular activity a real challenge, because it hurts me to walk.  But I don’t feel I have much choice.  I am in pain one way or another.  

The same endorphins are released when you exercise, as when you do deep breathing.  This makes you feel calmer and relaxed and may also work at minimizing the pain.  

If you can get your heart rate increased, all the better.  I have read that brisk walking is just as good as running for your heart.  And there are other benefits, like lower blood pressure, and better sleep. 

Relaxation Techniques for Pain
PhotoGranary/Pixabay

Sing

I wasn’t able to find much research to back up these claims, but some articles claim that singing can make you feel better for probably two reasons.  The first is that you are focusing on an activity, and therefore distracting the brain from the pain.

The second reason is that like walking or deep breathing, you are releasing more feel good hormones into your bloodstream.  Think about it; you have to do some deep breathing to sing in the first place.  And then combining that with the distraction, you have a one two punch to the pain.

I can testify that when I sang in church choirs, I always felt better afterwards.  I didn’t realize until now that the reason was all those endorphins swimming in my system.  Find some music you can sing along with and belt out a few songs!  

I’ve been singing to some Barbershop tunes while I write.  I love the harmony.  Listening to uplifting music is also just that; uplifting.  Here’s an example of one I really enjoy.  

Massage

I am a person that loves to go for a massage.  But it is something I can’t always afford.  I have had positive and negative experiences from massage; but mostly positive, thankfully.   

There doesn’t seem to be research supporting the positive effects of massage as far as pain management is concerned.  But there is proof that the massage of our muscles does relax the muscle and surrounding tissue.

I am also a firm believer in the power of touch.  Just being touched (in a healthy way!) by another caring human can lift our endorphins.  

Just a caution.  The one negative experience I had made my pain worse.  I have a feeling the therapist didn’t know much about pain.  But other therapists had profound positive effects.  I recommend checking how much your therapist knows about pain massage before they treat you.  

Get Out

Getting out has been a challenge during our quarantine period, hasn’t it?  But just a change of scenery can help lift your spirits and take your mind off your pain.  Again, some redirecting the mind.  

If possible take a friend with you, or have a friend take you.  Talking and listening are both activities that engage the brain and help to make the pain take a back seat.  

I have a classic Chevy truck that I try to take out every Saturday afternoon for an hour.  The feeling of the wind blowing through the cab as I motor down the road is such a spirit lifter.  I hope you can find a similar experience to raise your outlook. 

Stretches

I do stretches almost everyday.  I do set a goal to do them everyday, but sometimes the day gets away from me.  But these stretches make a huge difference in my pain level.  I like to think of stretches as a self massage.  Pulling out the muscles does release tension.

Relaxation Techniques for Pain
12019/Pixabay

Stretching also keeps your body young.  Since starting these stretches over two years ago, I am more flexible than I’ve ever been, and I’m 69!  Some of my friends who are younger tell me they can’t stretch like I can.  (I know, I’m boasting.  Forgive me.)  

I recommend finding a program that you can stick to.  Here are two DVDs that I recommend, and that I have reviewed.  See the reviews here: Jane Adams Gentle Yoga and Emily Lark’s Back to Life. I use parts of these two programs plus some others.  

Conclusion

May I recommend that you choose one of these suggestions and give it a try?  I would ask that you get back to me on your results.  

I am also open to suggestions of other techniques that you have found helpful.  I’m in this to search for help for myself and others.  

Disclaimer

I am not a medical professional.  Any new activity you start should be approved by your physician.  I recommend these practices because they have worked for me.

Sometimes I include product recommendations in my articles.  If I do so, I receive a small fee if you purchase it.  I do not have any product recommendations in this post.

On the other hand, I do recommend the platform that I have been using to build my websites.  If you are interested in finding out more about that, click here.  If you decide to join, I do receive a referral fee.  Thank you.

Pain Management of Chronic Back Pain

Introduction

Feeling down because you have pain?  Me too! It is often a challenge to get out of bed, because I know my day will start with pain.  You too? I just read a post that stated one-third of Americans live with chronic pain. That’s like 100 million.  And you thought you were the only one!  

Because I live with chronic pain, I am constantly researching new information to make my life more liveable.  Then I use the information to create posts that I hope will be helpful to others as well.

The following information is from several articles I have researched.  It is from articles I have read in a continuous search for relief from pain.  These topics only scratch the surface, so read some of my other posts to gain more information.

Walking

MabelAmber/Pixabay

 

Movement is vital to those of us in pain.  However, it goes against what we feel like doing.  Usually what I feel like doing is nothing. But that is the exact opposite of what I should do.  

Walking is still one of the best exercises we can do.  It is low impact and a natural activity. There are days when it hurts me to walk.  But then it hurts for me to do pretty much anything. So I figure I may as well get out and move as not.  

In my other posts you will note the benefits of exercise that I talk about.  My post, Exercises for Back Pain is one of them.  I suggest you take a look to see if it would be helpful for you.

Start with just a few minutes.  That’s what I had to do. It seemed sort of silly to put on my sneakers for just a 10 minute walk.  But you have to start somewhere. Maybe you have to start with 5 minutes.  

I have to attest that walking can help.  Just today I woke up with pain. About a level 6.  But I went walking with a friend, and by the time I got back it was down to a 2.  Yeah, it hurt to walk at first, but the longer I did it, the better I felt.

Now, my acupuncturist tells me that sometimes walking isn’t good.  So, you should consult with your doctor(s) and find what is best for you.  But most of the time movement is good. Dr. Chang (acupuncturist) told me that the exercise increases the circulation to the body and that helps with the pain.  

Keep a Record

I like this article that I found because it suggests keeping a log of your walks.  I track mine on an app on my phone. There are many out there. I like the Endomondo app.  It’s free for the basic app, which is what I use. Research shows that tracking your exercise can keep you motivated.  I like to review my exercise records because it makes me feel like I did something productive and proactive to manage my pain.  I think you will find this to be true for yourself.  

As you get into a regular routine you can increase the time, and/or distance.  That article has other suggestions and information including all the benefits you’ll experience, some thoughts to be aware of, and ideas to keep you going.  

You know it helps to have a buddy to walk with.  Since I live in a senior complex, many of my neighbors walk, and at a pace I can maintain.  This is very helpful. It keeps you accountable and encouraged. It also helps to tell someone what your goals are so that you have committed it publically. This helps with motivation.  

This article was very honest and helpful.  I recommend reading it a few times to get yourself up and moving.  Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump.  

Stretches

I have several articles that can help you with this.  I’m not going to rewrite or plagiarize them. I’ll give you the links.  

Let me just say that stretches have made all the difference in my pain management.  In my mind I am visualizing lengthening those muscles and tendons that are tight from the pain.  And maybe pulling off the nerve, so it is not pressing on the nerve. I have reviewed two DVDs that I use.  See the links here. (Review of Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams, Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life)

Other articles that might be helpful are the following: (click on the title, it will take you to the link)

8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Back Pain (I use some of these on an almost daily basis. I highly recommend them.)

A Surgeon Reveals Exercises That Heal Your Spine Before It’s Too Late (These seem a bit harder, so be careful.)

Exercise: 12 Workouts For Lower Back Pain (Some of the same as the 8 Simple ones above; try them both, see what works for you.)

Tai Chi

I don’t know enough about this practice to write about it, but it has come up in my radar twice within the last 24 hours.  So I did a little research. (And by the way, doesn’t it seem that the Chinese know something about health? Yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi, longevity; I think they got something here.)  It is referred to as “moving meditation”. That alone involves two concepts I recommend for managing pain.

It can generally improve balance and movement.  It apparently has a positive impact on other health concerns like hypertension and brain function.

So I think it is worth investigating.  This article recommends you seek out a class to make sure you are doing it correctly.  I plan on investigating this more also.

Are You Tired of Me Mentioning Movement?

Well, sorry.  But this is so important.  Plus I know for a fact that this is a natural pain remedy.  Find what’s right for you. Perhaps you have a different practice.  What is it? I would love to hear from you. You will be helping others too.

I am open to hearing about different forms of movement.  And willing to research them. Everyday is an opportunity to learn more.  Your comments are key for that to happen. So please comment. 

Here’s a great video that reinforces much of what I have researched in my journey.  The Pharmacist does promote a product, but the other information he communicates is very helpful.  I plan on investigating his philosophy/products in the future.

 

Someone to Check Out

I have found a new personality to follow while I continue investigations.  He is Dr. David Foreman, aka the Herbal Pharmacist. He no longer works in the pharmaceutical industry, but instead promotes what he calls The Four Pillars of Health.  

These Pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Supplements
  • Spirituality

He has been featured on all sorts of television stations and has his own website, Herbalpharmacist.com.  I highly recommend you go to his website and explore it.  There is a wealth of information. Plus I feel he is very down to earth, easy to understand and humble.   For those of you that are Christian, as am I, I was thrilled to note that he is also.

Foods

Now that you see that Dr. Foreman promotes exercise, I want to discuss one of his other pillars; diet.

I admit I am not where I need to be when it comes to food.  I am addicted to sugar. And sugar is one of the worst foods for people in pain.  Apparently it increases inflammation which is related to pain. So I know I need to break my addiction.  I am promising myself right now, today, that I shall begin to do so. I am promising you. Please comment and ask me how I’m doing.  If I have success, you know I will be writing about it. (When you see Dr. Foreman in a video he looks so healthy! I am sure it is because he doesn’t eat sugar.  And he is in his 50s!)  

So in one of his interviews he gave advice on healthy snacking.  Some suggestions are:

  • Eat more protein for a snack.  This helps the body build muscle.  Some ideas include, peanuts, edamame, and beans.  How much protein do we need? He said we should consume 1 gram of protein for every pound we weigh.  Protein contains essential amino acids which are necessary for our body to maintain itself.
  • Vegetables should be increased in your diet.  Ideally we should have veggies at each meal. And being in a hurry or on the go is no excuse for not getting veggies, since you can grab a salad or veggie cup almost anywhere.
  • Make sure to add berries to your diet.  Although blueberries are considered a super-food, all berries contain vitamins that keep us healthy.
  • Eat avocados which contain healthy fat and are packed with vitamins. (They are awfully expensive right now though!)
  • And finally, although it does contain sugar, dark chocolate is actually good for you.  It has a high amount of antioxidants (which fight disease) and apparently lowers the risk of heart problems.  
Silviarita/Pixabay

Why am I listing these foods in a pain management article?  Because if you are taking good care of your body by giving it the nutrients it needs it will function at its best.  Don’t you want that? Improving your diet is an easy fix to help you feel better. Why wouldn’t you do it?

Let’s do this together.  Comment on this post so we can encourage each other.

Comments Please

Throughout this article, I have asked you to comment.  The success of my posts depend on your interaction. I welcome questions and concerns.  If I am wrong about something I have said in this article I want to be corrected. Or if you have a product that has helped you, I want to hear about it.  I could be featured in an article and others may benefit.  

Thanks for your time!

 

Review of Emily Lark’s Back to Life DVD – A Natural Remedy for Pain

Review of Emily Lark's Back to Life

This will be a review of Emily Lark’s DVD called Back to Life; The Complete Healthy Back System.  

Back to Life DVD

Benefits

I have been using this DVD for several months now.  It has helped me manage my pain, and I highly recommend it as a natural remedy to people who suffer from back pain.  I actually suffer from pain in my hip, but these stretches have helped me find relief.  She specifically talks about sciatica pain in the first level.  The same exercise that helps with that pain, helps me with my hip pain, so I can attest to it’s effectiveness.  She also addresses neck and shoulder pain.  And provides stretches for those areas.  Remember that I am not a medical professional, so please check with your doctor before you start these exercises.

Apparently Emily has had severe back pain and her search for a healthy way to deal with it resulted in this video.  I admire her for being a fellow pain sufferer and being proactive in her search for a solution.  She understands our struggles.

The cover of the DVD says; The 3-level Healthy Back Video Series, Companion Manual and Healthy Back Checklist.  That said, the manual covers the exercises in the first level.  The checklist is a two page list of practices to help your back.  The series is 3 different levels of stretches.  Level 1 is about 10 minutes, level 2 is about 20 minutes and level 3 is about 30 minutes.  You sit in a chair for level 1.  You will need a yoga mat for levels 2 and 3.

Because the manual covers the stretches in the first level, you are not getting any new information.  But it is helpful to have if you don’t have access to a player and you want to be lead through the steps.  The checklist provides practices that we should all be mindful of as we seek to relieve our pain.  In fact while I type this, I am keeping my elbows next to my ribs so that I am not reaching forward and straining my back and shoulders.  This is just one of her suggestions.  I’m challenged to integrate them into my daily life.

My routine is to do the first level on this DVD, and then follow it up with a segment from Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams.  (Click here for a review of Jane’s DVD.)  The two segments take me about 30 minutes.  These are 30 minutes well spent as I know it will help me lessen my pain.  Sometimes I hardly have any pain thanks to the stretches.  There are other benefits as well.  Practicing the deep breathing while doing the stretches helps to calm me and bring clear thinking to my mind.  It sets a great tone to the start of my day.  It provides a positive outlook and hope of productivity.

I have also noticed a general loosening of my body.  I can tell I have more flexibility.  Bending over doesn’t hurt as much.  I can sit on the floor with my legs crossed; something I couldn’t do a year ago.  I can sit in a chair for a longer period of time as my pain isn’t as intense as it once was.  I can walk easier because my pain is less and my movements are easier.  And of course I sleep better because my pain is less and I can move more.

Issues

There are two issues that I feel are important to note about this DVD.  Emily moves at a steady pace through the stretches.  My friend who did this with me commented that it was too fast for her.  I guess I hadn’t noticed since I’d been doing them so long.  So I suggest you preview each segment at least once before you practice it.  This is especially important for level 2 and 3 because you are on the floor (with a mat) and it is sometimes hard to look at the screen.

The other issue is that I can’t do all the stretches, especially in level 3.  As a (almost) 68 year old, I am not as flexible as I would like to be.  I think if I had been practicing these stretches and yoga when I was younger, I would be more flexible.  I do note that I am able to stretch further than in the past, and I believe I will find further improvement, but for now, not all of the stretches are accessible to me.  She does caution you to use care as you move into more difficult positions.  Especially on level 3 where you do the neck and shoulder stretch.  Good advice.

How to purchase

As far as I can tell you can only get the DVD from her website; thebacktolifesystem.com.  I contacted them for a link to provide you, but I didn’t get a response back.  (These links usually give me a small percentage of the sale.) The system lists for $25.00.  This also comes with a money back guarantee.  But from the reviews I have seen, everyone is happy with the video.  There is a paperback of the system at Amazon for $14.39, but I can’t review that since I haven’t used it.  It appears to have the different levels included, and the checklist and some smoothie recipes.  I prefer the DVD because I like following along as I do the stretches.  I have trouble sometimes in motivating myself, so by using the DVD I feel I’m not alone.

Conclusions

Speaking of doing this alone, I asked a friend to help me be accountable to her so that I will remain motivated.  If she lived closer I know we would do these together, as she has pain issues too.  So I recommend that if you can, find someone to do these with you.  You won’t regret it.

I think this video would be a great asset to your search for natural pain remedies.  It has certainly changed my life for the better.  I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Your comments and questions are welcome.  I would like to hear how this video has helped you.

Are There Natural Remedies for Muscle Pain?

Are There Natural Remedies for Muscle Pain? I think so! I’ve been searching for months now, as my previous posts suggest. I have nerve pain, joint pain, and yes, muscle pain. Are there natural remedies for muscle pain, joint and nerve pain? Please check out my other posts for various options.

But today I want to talk about what has helped me more than anything so far. And they are completely natural. But two take discipline and work on your part, and the other is kind of scary for some people. Interested? Read on.

The three things that have helped me the most are, stretches, yoga, and acupuncture.

Acupuncture

Let’s address the scary one first. Scared of needles? Of the needles hurting you? Of quacks? I understand. My friend spent months denying my suggestions for treatment for his glaucoma, high blood pressure and edema. When I finally convinced him to try it, he saw immediate relief for his edema. He is maintaining a good eye pressure for his glaucoma (he does take medication also), and his blood pressure is improving (he takes medication for that too).

I have been under my acupuncturist’s care for over a year now. Not only does he treat my pain, but he monitors all my health concerns. I strongly recommend this type of treatment as a natural pain remedy. Be sure you get a qualified and honest practitioner! I had to go to 2 others before I found my current doctor.

In fact, if you live in the eastern part of LA county, I highly recommend Dr. Terry Chang.  You can see my Yelp Review here:  https://www.yelp.com/biz/terry-chang-acupuncture-and-herbs-pomona-4

Scientists can’t yet explain why acupuncture works.  They say “it helps the body heal itself by activating the self healing mechanism”.  They refer to “channels” or pathways that connect nerves and organs.  Makes sense to me since we know everything is connected in our bodies.  My  understanding is the needles stimulate the nerve to heal itself and reduce the pain.  There is also the claim that the needles stimulate the nerve to produce a pain relief hormone that is more powerful than morphine.  All natural!

Acupuncture has not been a cure.  But I feel better after a treatment.  I go once a week.

Yoga

I have two yoga DVDs that I can use in the comfort of my own home and at my convenience. The one that has been most helpful is Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams. Because I am in my late 60s, this program is the perfect workout for me. She introduces stretches that seniors can practice. She moves slowly and gives explicit instructions. Not too hard, but certainly helpful! Definitely a natural muscle and joint pain remedy! I always feel less pain after doing this. And because it is yoga, I find myself calmer, more relaxed and with a positive outlook. Pretty good outcomes; and all natural!

Stretches

The Complete Healthy Back System; Back to Life Series DVD is a great addition to my program. This woman has had severe pain in her young life and researched until she found these stretches for her pain. I respect her journey and how helpful her stretches have been. Her DVD is The Complete Healthy Back System; Back to Life Series, by Emily Lark.  Emily moves fairly fast in her instructions.  I recommend you watch each section first before you try them so that you have an idea of what she is talking about.

I combine the Yoga and Stretches.  This takes about 1/2 hour for the two segments I chose.  Both DVDs have different sections for different parts of your body.  My goal is to practice these 5 days a week.

Comments

I welcome your comments and questions. I will respond to all. And I hope that you find relief in your pain. Trust me; I know what you are experiencing.

Other Natural Pain Remedies

Pain.  Nobody wants to have it.  Few people want to hear you talk about it.  But for some of us it is a reality.  It is a constant companion.

My pain has changed my life.  I am limited in my physical activities.  It hurts to walk.  And I know exercise, which is a natural pain remedy, is vital in so many ways!  A real Catch 22; exercise would help manage my pain, but it hurts to do it. So here are some alternatives to exercise that may help you manage your pain.  They are natural pain remedies, because they aren’t products at all!

Stretches and Yoga

I have a few CDs that I switch around that seem to help lessen the pain.  They vary in length from 10 minutes to 45 minutes.  Doing one or two of them as often as possible seems to help.  I know that I’d rather just sit, but that’s not good for me.  Here’s what I have:

The Complete Healthy Back System, Back to Life by Emily Lark – a fellow pain sufferer, she speaks from experience

Yoga over 50 with Barbara Benagh – gentle and relaxing, but still challenging

Gentle Yoga with Jane Adams – also relaxing and focuses on various parts of the body

Classical Stretch The Esmonde Technique – 30 challenging but doable active stretches that will get your heart going

I recommend you use a yoga mat.  If you don’t have one, here is a link to purchase an affordable one from eBay.

Natural Pain Relief
Child pose

Laugh with friends

Does this sound obvious?  But when is the last time you did this?  I am blessed to have friends that make me laugh, and I always attempt to return the favor.  Laughter releases those feel good endorphins, that may numb pain.  And when you are with people you love who make you happy you aren’t focused on yourself and your pain.  It makes you forget for a time.

A few words of advice though.  Don’t be a Debbie Downer when you get together with friends.  Yeah, you’re in pain, but ask about them, see what makes them happy.  Come prepared with a few jokes.  Be the person that everyone wants to be around.  I’m not being Pollyanna here.  I know from experience what kind of people attract others.  People that complain and talk only about themselves are lonely for a reason.  Don’t be that person.  Practice asking questions.  Think about others.  Don’t talk about yourself so much.

I can speak from first hand experience that when I am laughing with others I forget completely about my pain.  What a relief!

Keep busy

I don’t watch TV.  It is a time waster for me.  For relaxation I read.  But otherwise, I keep busy.  This seems to work like laughter; if you are focused on something else, you don’t focus on the pain.  Focusing on the pain makes it stronger.  Find projects and activities that you can participate in.  On good days I attempt something physical.  On bad days, something more sedentary.  Have lists that will provide you with ideas to work on.  Just making lists and plans helps your attitude.

It is my hope that these natural pain remedies will give you some relief and joy.

Limit certain foods

Did you know that alcohol and caffeine can increase pain?  There seems to be evidence that stress hormones can affect pain, increasing it’s level.  Caffeine increases the stress hormones, therefore, caffeine increases pain.  Alcohol affects the body’s ability to absorb several vitamins that are essential for nerve health.  If your body is unable to function at it’s peak, then your pain could be worse.

Social Share Buttons and Icons powered by Ultimatelysocial
error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)