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Pain Management Made Easy

For most, the term “pain management” creates haunting visions of pain medicine, drastic lifestyle changes and expensive doctor bills. In the sports medicine world, that same phrase paints a much rosier image.

“Not all pain is created equal.”  Different types of tissue in your body can generate varying types of pain. Here’s a list of body tissues, which can all be located in the same small part of a joint, and the different types of “pain” sensed in each:

Nerves – Burning, numbness, shooting, weakness.

Bone – Stabbing, deep ache, shooting.

Muscle – Cramping, stabbing, shooting, aching.

Ligament – Instability, snapping, stabbing.

Cartilage – Catching, stabbing, pinching.

I never really thought about how many different type of pain I can feel“, you’re probably thinking.

One of the biggest challenge facing a physical therapist, athletic trainer and doctor is asking the right types of questions and interpret their tests to find the source of pain in their patients.  Pain management starts with finding where the pain is coming from.

Think about it this way: If we, the sports medicine specialist, can quickly determine that 90% of your pain is coming from, say, your supraspinatus muscle of your shoulder’s rotator cuff, we can quickly develop a rehab plan to reduce your specific pain.

Pain Management Plan

It’s time to stop focussing on pain pills as the solution for reducing pain in orthopedic injuries.  Sure, check with your doctor to get his/her thoughts but know there are many safer, cheaper and effective ways to use physical therapy to reduce your pain.

Ice

Ice will reduce pain and swelling.  Ice will hurt at first but it works.  Toughen up and try icing your pain for at least 6 times before judging it’s results.  Ice can change your life.

Methods of icing:

Ice Bucket – Place the injured/sore body part into a bucket of ice water. It’s an aggressive way to ice but the benefits are quick and lasting. Timing: 10 minutes max.

Ice Bags/Packs – Wrap with an ace bandage to add compression.  Timing: 15 minutes max.
Ice Massage – Peeling down a paper cup filled with frozen water is the best way to ice a localized area of pain.  Timing: 10 minutes max.

Massage

Massage will increase blood flow into a body part while increasing the lymphatic drainage out of an area of discomfort.

Flexibility

Good old stretching will lengthen tissue such as muscles, joints and fascia to reduce the pressure on nerves and painful soft-tissue while enhancing the blood flow into your entire extremity.

Hydro Therapy

When it comes to reducing pain, hydro therapy can consist of using a hot tub, cold tub, hot show, cold shower, cold mountain stream or a combo of both hot and cold water. The benefits of hydro therapy can range from relaxing painful tissue, numbing a body part, tricking the nervous system, altering the blood flow to an extremity and/or blocking the sensation of pain.

That last sentence may sound out of character or even barbaric when discussing a “medical” topic. The truth is I’m a huge fan of hydro therapy because it has a way of healing the body in a peculiar manner when other more scientific techniques fail.

Ending Ice Bag….

In closing, pain doesn’t have to be part of your day. Challenge yourself to find safe and effective ways to put pain in your rearview mirror. Initially, eliminating your pain completely may not be a realistic option.  But just think how much better your lifestyle will be if you used these techniques to reduce both the intensity and the frequency of your pain by just 50%?!

NOW is the time to rewrite your Pain Management Plan.  Let me know how I can help you to beat your pain the smart way.

Smart Start With CrossFit

Source: Pixabay

Source: Pixabay

I did my first CrossFit workout (at CrossFit Pablo Beach in Jax Beach) this weekend….and my ass and hamstrings are killing me!

New to CrossFit

As a devoted cross trainer, I’m very comfortable with my old friends; running, biking, TRX, body-weight exercises, weight lifting, aggressive core work, swimming, trail running and such, but now doing power lifts such as dead lifts, clean & jerks and squats haven’t been part of my workout routine since I was racing as a miler in college.

Fit and/or Healthy?

Enhancing our fitness is a quest for most of us while not getting injured is a key goal for all of us. Avoiding injures is not a passive process.  It’s an active, conscious process which pays off in a big way by keeping you in the game.

I want to show you how easy it is to minimize the risk of injury so you can maintain an active at ANY age. I’ll use myself as an example with my new workout plan. The steps below are exactly what I did to help accelerate my recovery.

Avoiding Injuries: The Appetizer for Injury Prevention

Going into my first CrossFit workout I knew I’d be doing different types exercises which would significantly stress my muscles, tendons, joints, fascia and ego in a new way. I thoroughly reviewed the warm-up, strength exercises and workout of the day (WOD) beforehand.  These are the steps I took to help me avoid an injury:

Pre-Workout Steps

  • Be Real – Understand the newness of the workouts so check your ego at the door.
  • Break a Sweat – Warm-up the muscles and joints from your ankles to your neck with dynamic stretches, shadow boxing, arm circles,…etc. to start the sweating process.
  • Rolling – I’m a big fan of soft tissue rollers. Using a roller on your legs, back, chest and shoulders needs be a part of your warm-up.

During the Workout

  • Keeping it Real – It’s an entirely new workout so the stresses and loads on your body will be very different. Focus on great technique while you learn the details of the workout while keeping the weights low.
  • Listen to Your Body – Trust your body, listen to your body. If something is wrong, your body will know it.
  • Compete With Yourself – This is a perfect example of when you should compete with yourself with every exercise not the dude beside you.  He/she is probably a seasoned CrossFitter so don’t risk an injury as a rookie trying to match up against Joe Muscle!

Post-Workout

  • Slow the Train – A 5-10 minute cool down doesn’t sound exciting but it important and it should be a part of every workout.
  • Fuel the Train – Replacing fluids, carbs and protein within 30 minutes after a workout will help your recover and your future performances.
  • Drain the Legs – Lay down and elevate your legs while continuing to bend your knees and pump your ankles. It’s a simple way to quickly reduce the lactic acid and waste products from your hard-working leg muscles.

The Day After

  • Get Moving – Get out, move and get more blood into and out of those recovering muscles. Easy cardio, agility and stretching should be part of your routine the day after a workout. If you want a day off, do it 2 days after the hard workout.
  • Repeat the Movements Minus the Load – Repeating a few reps of some of the exercises you did the day before with minimal, if any, weights. As I like to say: “If you want to get rid of soreness, do what made you sore.”
  • Freeze the Spots – If any areas are overly sore, ice those areas to reduce the pain. Less medicine and more ice is typically a smart plan.

 In closing, it’s as simple as planning ahead, be smart, progress slowly and recover aggressively.