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Pain Relief in 3 Quick Steps


Step 1: Change the stress, change the demand

When we sit in a chair all day that has a specific set of stress consequences. When we walk all day our elbows don't get sore, our feet do.

Let's dumb this down even further.

If sitting for long periods recreates your back pain, do not sit! (At least not for long periods)

If bench pressing causes a week of pain in your bad shoulder, the non-dumb thing to do is either a) stop bench pressing or b) change the intensity/frequency/volume/load etc...

Pain is the body demanding change.

Remember, pain is often the body pleading for you to change. When something hurts, identify the triggers and modify them!

Ideas: Change your workstation setup. Go for regular short walks to break up daily monotony. Modify the gym exercises you do to find a better-fitting stressor. Give the body the opposite of what it has been getting! Take a break. Try something new.

Step 2: Move the area

When patients need a hip replacement it is quite traumatic to the body. They saw off the end of the bone and use a drill that looks like a serrated cheese grader to smooth and shape the hip socket to fit the new metal hip. They hammer a spike down the femur bone to hallow out a cavity to allow the hip replacement to hold. And once you wake up from this surgery, the same day...they make you walk!

Why? Because movement stimulates growth and health. It also prevents scar tissue and irregular tissue formation. It helps promote the best quality tissue repair.

So on a much less dramatic level, that nagging neck pain you have doesn't usually need less movement. It needs more movement, or more specifically, more novel movement.

Ideas: Sit at work? Go for walks every day. Stretch your hip flexors and pec muscles. Knee pain? Pain-free stretches and exercises. Unloaded full knee bends. Backwards walking. Tight muscles? Take them through FULL range of motion. Rotate them, squeeze them, relax them.

Step 3: Strengthen the area

The best way to explain the value of getting stronger/fitter is to understand the extremes. If you ask a random 40-year-old off the street to run 5 miles as hard as they can, the odds are they either can't, it will be slow and terrible, or it will injure them or require several days of recovery if they manage to complete it.

Meanwhile, if we ask the 39-year-old Eliud Kipchoge to run 5 miles he will probably respond with: "At what pace?" or "For how many intervals?" Kipchoge ran his fastest marathon (26.2 miles) in under 2 hours. His average mile pace was a staggering 4 minutes and 35 seconds. For him to run 5 miles is a stressless task, and may actually be a recovery for his body compared to the normal demands of his sport.

Another extreme would be to understand the difference between your 85-year-old grandma having to carry heavy groceries inside from her car and the World's Strongest Man of 2024 (Tom Stoltman) completing the same task. After lifting cars and pulling airplanes, groceries are insignificant.

If your capacity barely exceeds the demands of the task...injury and/or pain risk goes way up!

Please reread that last sentence. Understand it and remember it.

Raise your capacity and raise your tolerance. Raise your capacity and raise your resilience.

The farther above the task demand that your body has in capacity the less likely a problem will occur!

In other words, get stronger and get fitter and this will allow you to tolerate the stresses of daily life to a much greater degree.

Load and physical stress are how the body adapts and grows. If you want a tendon to get stronger, you HAVE to load it. No vibrating gun or rub-on lotion will work. Even anabolic steroids are rendered impotent if the person won't lift weights!

That back pain flares up every time you are working in the garden? Strengthen it. Your lungs burn from going up 1 flight of stairs, do more cardio (like going up and down those same stairs several times a day)! The bottom of your feet hurt when you don't wear shoes or you walk too long? Try strengthening all those amazing foot muscles!

Ideas: Strength train the injured area in a pain-free manner. Achilles pain? Slow controlled calf raises every day. Back pain? Slow controlled toe touches with a small weight in the hands. Neck pain? Isometric contractions against your hand or a towel. Knee pain? Spanish squats or slandboard squats...increasing your load or volume as your body adapts to the new stimulus.

Start with these three steps and begin to rebuild yourself!


Want help? Join STRETCH CLUB!

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