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4 Tips for quick pain relief

There are many pain management options out there, some work faster than others and some even have an immediate effect.

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When you’re in pain, you have one thing on your mind – please make it stop. Luckily there are many pain management options out there, some work faster than others and some even have an immediate effect. That’s why therapeutic at-home massager manufacturer Wahl interviewed board-certified anesthesiologist and pain specialist Dr. Anita Gupta for tips on how to get pain relief quick.

“While opioids can serve an important function, my advice for patients is to try a non-medication approach first,” explains Dr. Gupta. “Simple non-medication remedies for pain relief are sustainable, and most importantly they’re often times effective for many types of pain conditions when combined with a comprehensive treatment plan.” She offers the following four tips for prompt pain relief: 

1. Go for a walk: Being active is great for your health as seen in many studies. It can help strengthen muscles and extend your life, when combined with a comprehensive pain management routine. Any physical activity should first be discussed with your doctor, and be adjusted based on your ability to tolerate your symptoms and function; however, there are plenty of low-impact exercises that can have a positive impact on your pain. Walking is one of them. It can be done anytime and almost anywhere, and the simple act of moving can work wonders on relieving certain symptoms, especially chronic back pain.

Some ideas on how to incorporate walking into your daily routine could include: Take your dog for a quick stroll first thing in the morning when you may be feeling especially stiff, choose the farthest parking space, use the office restroom or the walking route that’s out of your way at work.   

2. Take massage into your own hands: Massage is a popular pain-relief option due to its many pain-relieving benefits; however, making an appointment at the spa can be prohibitive due to time and cost. So if you are one of the many individuals whose day is filled with work, errands and other responsibilities, a handheld at-home massager can be a much needed relief.

One of the biggest advantages of incorporating at-home massage into a comprehensive pain-management regimen is convenience and the fact that it provides relief fast. Massage relieves muscle tension by enhancing blood flow, which causes muscles to relax. It also decreases inflammation by activating genes that naturally reduce swelling, it reduces pain intensity by diminishing bodily substances that create and prolong pain and it improves recovery by stimulating mitochondria, the “energy packs” driving cellular function and repair.

3. Stay hydrated: Water can be an easy way to stem pain at the source. Keeping water nearby and making sure you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses daily can make all the difference when trying to combat pain. In general, your body needs water to work properly, to lubricate and cushion your joints, to protect your tissues, to keep your temperature normal and to get rid of wastes. A lack of water can lead to dehydration and drain your energy even further, leading to exhaustion and more painful symptoms. Water is a key element in keeping balance in your body and overall health.

4. Take a dip. I already covered the miraculous effect water can have on your body from the inside, but it has soothing powers from the outside too. Depending on the source of your chronic pain, a warm bath can offer respite from your discomfort. Being submerged in water reduces the stress of body weight and gives all-over support, easing pressure on your joints. What’s more, the warm and even temperature stimulates blood flow throughout your body helping to loosen stiff, painful muscles.

To learn more about pain management tips and tools, visit WahlUSA.com.

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Fitness

Study finds moderate-vigorous physical activity is the most efficient at improving fitness

Dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

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In the largest study performed to date to understand the relationship between habitual physical activity and physical fitness, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher amount of time spent performing exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) and low-moderate level activity (steps) and less time spent sedentary, translated to greater physical fitness.

“By establishing the relationship between different forms of habitual physical activity and detailed fitness measures, we hope that our study will provide important information that can ultimately be used to improve physical fitness and overall health across the life course,” explained corresponding author Matthew Nayor, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at BUSM.

He and his team studied approximately 2,000 participants from the community-based Framingham Heart Study who underwent comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) for the “gold standard” measurement of physical fitness. Physical fitness measurements were associated with physical activity data obtained through accelerometers (device that measures frequency and intensity of human movement) that were worn for one week around the time of CPET and approximately eight years earlier.

They found dedicated exercise (moderate-vigorous physical activity) was the most efficient at improving fitness. Specifically, exercise was three times more efficient than walking alone and more than 14 times more efficient than reducing the time spent sedentary. Additionally, they found that the greater time spent exercising and higher steps/day could partially offset the negative effects of being sedentary in terms of physical fitness.

According to the researchers, while the study was focused on the relationship of physical activity and fitness specifically (rather than any health-related outcomes), fitness has a powerful influence on health and is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. “Therefore, improved understanding of methods to improve fitness would be expected to have broad implications for improved health,” said Nayor, a cardiologist at Boston Medical Center.

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Fitness

Tips to avoid common running injuries

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

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Whether training for a marathon or preparing for your first community race, being knocked off course with pain can be hard to handle mentally and physically.

Injuries are very common among runners. Recent research estimates that 82% of runners will become injured during their running career and up to 90% will experience injury while training for a marathon. Some of the most common include a stress fracture, plantar fasciitis, hamstring tendinitis, ankle sprain, runners’ knee, and Achilles’ tendonitis.

Injury prevention is critical. Here are some safety tips from Dr. Joshua Blomgren, a 15-time Chicago Marathon team physician and sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush:

Don’t over-train

Don’t increase weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10 percent each week. Build up slowly and let a good training schedule determine how much you run.

Invest in good shoes

Go to a specialty running shop to be properly fitted for running shoes and/or orthotics. Replace them every 350-500 miles. Incorrect shoes can affect your gait, leading to injuries in your feet, legs, knees, or hips.

Choose the best running surface

Look for running surfaces that absorb shock. Opt for asphalt over concrete. Find grass or dirt trails, especially for higher mileage. Avoid uneven surfaces and seek paths with slow curves.

Stretch!

Training causes tight muscles, leading to strain and changes in your gait. Commit to a stretching program. Just 5 -10 minutes after each workout can make a big difference.

Strengthen muscles

Runners have tight hip flexors because their quads are overtrained. Strengthen your hamstrings and glutes to reduce chance of injury and abductors, adductors, and core to create stability.

Watch out for heel striking

Heel striking occurs when your feet land in front of you and your heel hits the ground first. This is common among new runners but can lead to injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, and joint pain. Land mid-sole with your foot directly underneath your body.

Prioritize posture

Good form means staying upright and keeping your shoulders back and relaxed. Work core exercises into your training and do posture checks every so often. Hold your head right above your shoulders and hips.

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Fitness

Postmenopausal women can dance their way to better health

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures.

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Women often struggle with managing their weight and other health risk factors, such as high cholesterol, once they transition through menopause. A new study suggests that dancing may effectively lower cholesterol levels, improve fitness and body composition and in the process, improve self-esteem. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

After menopause, women are more likely to experience weight gain, overall/central body adiposity increases, and metabolic disturbances, such as increases in triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Together, these changes ultimately increase cardiovascular risk. Around this same time, women often are less physically active, which translates into reductions in lean mass and an increased risk of falls and fractures. As a result of all these changes, postmenopausal women often suffer from decreased self-image and self-esteem, which are directly related to overall mental health.

Physical activity has been shown to minimize some of the many health problems associated with menopause. The effect of dancing, specifically, has already been investigated with regard to how it improves body composition and functional fitness. Few studies, however, have investigated the effects of dance on body image, self-esteem, and physical fitness together in postmenopausal women.

This new study was designed to analyze the effects of dance practice on body composition, metabolic profile, functional fitness, and self-image/self-esteem in postmenopausal women. Although the sample size was small, the study suggested some credible benefits of a three-times-weekly dance regimen in improving not only the lipid profile and functional fitness of postmenopausal women but also self-image and self-esteem.

Dance therapy is seen as an attractive option because it is a pleasant activity with low associated costs and low risk of injury for its practitioners. Additional confirmed benefits of regular dancing include improvement in balance, postural control, gait, strength, and overall physical performance. All of these benefits may contribute to a woman’s ability to maintain an independent, high-quality lifestyle throughout her lifespan.

Study results are published in the article “Dance practice modifies functional fitness, lipid profile, and self-image in postmenopausal women.”

“This study highlights the feasibility of a simple intervention, such as a dance class three times weekly, for improving not only fitness and metabolic profile but also self-image and self-esteem in postmenopausal women. In addition to these benefits, women also probably enjoyed a sense of camaraderie from the shared experience of learning something new,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

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