How to Do More with Less Pain: Part 2
Would you like to be able to do more? In part 1 of this series about how to become more active with less pain, you learned the value of being flexible in order to do things differently and to find new things to do. In this section, you will read about how being disciplined and humble will also allow you to get tasks done without causing more pain.
- Find a Sustainable Pace: Are you the type of person that likes to get everything done at once? If so, then you are probably going to be in more pain than necessary. Being goal oriented is great, but accomplishing the goal can also be done at a slower, sustainable pace. Just like that old children’s tale about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise finished the race while the hare did not because he took a break and fell asleep, before he could finish. Having a slower, tortoise-like pace is not such a bad thing because at least it allows you to work within your limitations yet still accomplish the task.
- Take Breaks: Along the lines of working at a sustainable pace is the discipline of taking frequent breaks throughout the day. A restful break allows the muscles to relax, reduces the amount of stress on the body and promotes recovery. Just after a brief 20 minute break, you will be able to get back to what you were doing with less pain.
- Make a Deposit: While on that break, you might want to consider making a deposit into your "body account". If your body is like a checking account, everything you do is similar to writing a check. Soon you will be "overdrawn" and hurting unless you are making deposits along the way. An example of my favorite deposit is to sit in a zero-gravity chair for thirty minutes. Another deposit worth making during the day is to do some stretches. Any deposit you make will allow you to do more and hurt less.
- Gradually Increase Activity: If you want to do more, you need to gradually build up your tolerance to do more. A marathon runner does not start by running marathons. No, a marathon runner starts training gradually with short distances and building up to longer distances. Without gradually introducing longer distances and more activity intensity, the activity is likely going to cause a great deal of pain. A good place to start is at the baseline of minimal activity that does not cause a flare-up of pain that lasts for days. After each week of doing the activity regularly, another level of intensity can be added.
- Get Help: If you are the type of person that is too proud to ask for help, you will be in doing more by yourself and hurting more as a consequence. Being self-reliant and self controlling will only lead to more and more pain. When that nice person at the grocery stores asks you if you want some help out to the car, say "Yes please". Being humble and asking for help does not come naturally until you are ready to admit you are powerless and life is unmanageable by yourself. (Yes, some may recognize this as step one in the 12 step program for transformation.)
No one likes to live with pain or disabilities, but the fact of the matter is that there are those of us that have no choice but to continue living despite it. Contemplate about how these steps of being flexible, disciplined and humble will help you do more with less pain. Implement these concepts into your life in order to improve your quality of life.
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Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.