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Can you be totally pain free?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Ten things you can start to look at when it comes to pain management

Sports marketing these days has taken on a new dimension in the age of increasing awareness to keeping fit – pain-free is seemingly the hallmark. In the aim to arrive at a totally pain-free zone, I had on many occasions therapists or pilates instructor telling me they have achieved it in their lives. That, is the big question I have been struggling with, for a while. 

My body has conformed to the corporate world for well over 20 years. That meant I have sat in front of the computer most parts of the day; travelled around the world with the cattle class treatment; thoroughly drenched in the digital disruption; and soaked in the “who’s faster” madness.

What does that mean to the body?

Tightened pectoralis muscles resulting in rounded shoulders and some levels of hunched back, all from working on the computer as the main “gateway” to all things corporate. A forward head posture as you squint into the computer screen wondering if all things corporate have made sense. Shortened hip flexors from loads of sitting – this is usually accompanied by the ubiquitous lower back pain that you hear about all so often in the office pantry. 

So far, I have focused only on the trunk. More can be unveiled if we look further up or down beyond the trunk into your limbs and the feet which is where your foundation begins. Can a body such as what I have described ever achieve a pain-free zone, without the help of any medication? My personal experience of physiotherapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists and the likes have shown me that a pain-free zone is not impossible.  But it cannot be achieved just with the help of these therapists. Therapists are great help when you are in inflammatory pain.  As you gradually recover from that phase, there are a number of things you have to take upon yourself to manage the pain. 

If you were to revert back to your everyday life as you have always had, it is not difficult to imagine the pain that brought you to the doctor’s clinic will once again haunt you at some point.

Even if you have included exercise regime into your schedule, you need to look into the amount of time you have allocated for the things you used to do that caused you the pain versus that dedicated to the exercise regime. I used to wonder why even if I had done three Pilates classes in a week – which most corporate folks would applaud to – the pain was still lingering. I could never say I am totally pain free – like how I hear the therapists saying. So what was it that has to be changed in order to achieve total pain-free zone? Or is that too noble a goal to pursue? My personal take on this is pain management is an everyday affair. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Listening to your body and increasing your body awareness are but the first few things you can start to do. Take baking a cake as an analogy: the cake that comes out from the oven can certainly vary on every different occasion if something in the mix has been changed. A little too much flour stiffens the cake; a little too much butter enriches the cake; and a little sugar reduction gets the cake into a health-conscious category where the taste is expected to be perhaps watered-down. Back to our bodies, if we were sitting in the office eight hours a day, five days a week, that makes up 40 hours. Would three hours of exercise (i.e. equivalent to three group classes) – essentially less than 10 per cent of a week – be of much help?   Compounded with corporate stress and the lack of sleep, all these do not bode well for pain management. The body is very much intertwined. Putting in the effort to change and bring about more good in the body than that which would cause it harm is almost the first step in pain management. Something has to change in order for you to move towards the pain-free zone. 

Change is the new constant when it comes to pain management.

What are some small steps you can take towards that? Here are 10 ideas to look into.  Ten things you can start to look at:

  1. Sitting posture at your office desk

  2. Standing posture while you are kept waiting

  3. Hours dedicated to your office desk

  4. Hours dedicated to your exercise regime

  5. Hours spent strengthening the weakened muscles

  6. Hours spent articulating your spine

  7. Monitoring your sleep pattern

  8. Understanding your source of pain

  9. Reducing the dependence on medication

  10. Reducing stress points in your life

This list consists of areas from different aspects, looking at the body from a 360-degree perspective. Just like adopting an all organic food diet and yet refusing to kick the smoking habit off feels like an oxymoron, what with your effort to keep the exercise regime to be negated by the long hours of a bad posture at your desk? 

Feeling daunted on where to begin? I would encourage you to take a holistic look and start with ways to first reap the low hanging fruits before surmounting the uphill task.  Examining the allocation of time to each of these could very well be the start of your journey towards your pain-free zone. Even if pain-free seems like too tall a mountain to conquer, you are definitely closer to better managing your pain if you just take the baby steps forward.

Never say never. Where is your low hanging fruit? Start from there today. 

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