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Fitness

5 Tips to take control of your pain

Taking control of painful symptoms is challenging under even the best of circumstances.

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Photo by Ash Wood from Unsplash.com

If you suffer from chronic pain, you know all too well the effect it can have on almost every aspect of your life. From limiting your daily activities, to straining your closest relationships, pain has a way of taking control. 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 the power back.

“Taking control of painful symptoms is challenging under even the best of circumstances,” explains Dr. Gupta. “Yet, taking affirmative steps in this regard can be empowering.” She offers the following 5 tips to help you achieve a more fulfilling pain-free life:

1. Become aware of your baseline pain and create a self-care plan. Gain familiarity with your symptoms. This will allow you to recognize when further intervention or changes need to be made, or if your treatment is working. Next, develop a self-care plan. Create a schedule, routine, or checklist for your treatment so that you can comply with your physician’s directions and engage family and friends where you may require assistance.

2. Self-manage your pain alongside a comprehensive treatment plan. A comprehensive treatment plan can empower your health. There are many components that can go into a treatment plan such as proper diet and exercise. Another way to keep up with an active lifestyle is to make massage part of your daily routine. In fact, according to research, a significant reduction in pain levels can be achieved with therapeutic massage. In addition to relieving tension, massage can help decrease swelling and improve blood circulation to promote the healing of soft-tissue damage, bruising and muscle fatigue. It also helps improve flexibility and mobility faster while reducing overall stiffness.

Massage can also impact the healing process by improving relaxation, sleep, emotions and overall recovery. There are many options for massage, and often at-home tools may be the most convenient for individuals who are limited by function or time.

3. Communicate your limitations to people close to you. By communicating clearly to your close friends and family, misunderstandings and stigma can be avoided. Clear communication can create a path toward additional support for better health outcomes. Pain is a subjective phenomenon, and until you communicate about it to your doctors, they cannot help you make a road map to reach your destination of pain relief. Communicating about your pain will help you garner support and it is the first step to alleviate the cycle of mental stress related to your painful symptoms.

4. Create a goal-oriented daily routine that you can achieve. Setting a reasonable framework will help you cope with your pain and stress in an effective manner. Clarifying roles and responsibilities for yourself and those within your support network can ease anxieties that could exacerbate pain. Perhaps you are taking on a function that is better delegated, or alternatively, maybe an already delegated task could be better accomplished on your own. Creating reasonable expectations for the people in your circle can help you ultimately gain traction in your health goals.

5. Learn coping mechanisms to address your mental health wellness. Coping is key to dealing with chronic pain. There are negative emotional consequences of chronic pain that require one to think positively and practice gratitude. Meditation can give you a spiritual experience and support. The regular practice of meditation creates a relaxation reflex. It calms your mind and releases tension in your body tissues. Practice positive affirmations and continue to stay focused on your goals to better health.

Additionally, music therapy can be a useful way to supplement a comprehensive pain treatment plan. Listening to the music of your choice can help your body calm and release the tension in your muscles. As suggested by a research study, music interventions may provide a practical complementary approach for the relief of acute, procedural and chronic pain management. These are only a few examples of coping mechanisms which you may choose to integrate into your treatment plan.

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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