As I sit here and write this, I’m shifting to find a position that doesn’t make my back protest with pain. This weekend I tried to pick something up that was definitely too heavy and am feeling the after effects now. While it’s nothing serious and will right itself in a day or two, it did bring up a topic that I wanted to share with you. Recently an Advil (or Aleve or something like that) ad has been airing on my streaming platform, rudely interrupting my episode of House Hunters. This ad is driving me totally crazy because the whole thing is about people ignoring their pain and going about various activities anyway. “I took this pill and now I’m golfing for eight hours!” That is so great!… or is it?
Your body experiences pain for a reason, and I think with the inventions of modern medicine we have started to forget that. Just like hunger tells you to eat, or thirst tells you to drink some water, pain tells you that something isn’t working right and it needs to be tended to. Here are some of my “dos and don’ts” of pain relief:
*Note: if you’re experiencing chronic pain, severe migraines, an autoimmune disorder, or something similar this is different than the temporary pain I reference in this article. While some of this may apply, you should reach out to a holistic health professional for further guidance.
1. DO listen to your body
Don’t ignore your symptoms. Rest if you’re in pain or feeling fatigued. Increase your sleep during this time, as a majority of muscle and cell repair happens while you are sleeping.
DON’T take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) repeatedly to numb out the pain and continue your activities. You could exacerbate the injury if you can’t tell how the motions are affecting your body. There is also growing research around the side effects of ibuprofen specifically with gastrointestinal injury. Americans pop this stuff like candy; a 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) that found that 12.8% of adults in the United States were taking NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs) at least three times a week for 3 months, representing an increase of over 40% compared with the results of a similar interview in 2005 (ref).
2. DO continue to stay active (if you can)
Exercise is important for healing, as long as you don’t feel it is making your injury worse. Long walks are a great substitute for more strenuous exercise. Even light stretching or yoga can allow your body to move without jeopardizing your healing.
DON’T “push through the pain” or keep doing any exercise where you feel pain. There is a difference between straining your muscles in a productive way and furthering injury. Know the difference between discomfort, fatigue or soreness and actual pain.
3. DO fuel your healing with nutrition.
You know the drill here, lots of water and plant-based fare. Consider incorporating turmeric into your cooking, or taking it in capsule form. This spice is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties.
DON’T over-indulge in dairy, alcohol or sugar. These are all known to create inflammation in the body. If your primary issue is headaches, also consider experimenting with how caffeine affects you, and increase your water intake significantly.
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