Let me start by saying that I’m sympathetic towards those dealing with chronic pain. I realize that each person experiences pain differently depending on a number of factors, mainly our biology, psychology, and social environment. I’ve had my own agonizing and depressing pain experiences, mostly stemming from injuries playing sports (arthritic feet, plantar fasciitis, knee and shoulder injuries), as well as neuropathic pain from an abscessed tooth, possibly my most painful experience. I’ve spent countless hours researching and studying chronic pain so that I can better understand your affliction and try to help you resolve your pain. Whether it’s my family, friends, or BRP members, I’m in your corner and will do my best to help you get your swagger back and live life to the fullest. However, this requires you to shift your mindset on what could be causing your pain.

Muscular-skeletal pain is often a response to our sedentary lifestyle habits. In other words, it’s our brain/body pleading with us to change our behaviors. Pain should be a motivator to stop slouching, move more with variation, and be mindful of how you move throughout your day. Having more awareness of how your body is designed to move, and putting that awareness into daily practice, will lead to less pain and better performance in daily activities as you age. You will also experience less injury while playing your favorite sport or recreational activity.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed many injuries playing on my men’s slow pitch softball team, including my own. Often these injuries, such as pulled hamstrings and knee and shoulder strains, are a consequence of being sedentary most of the day and not warming up properly. I’ve seen similar injuries happen throughout the years as a running coach and fitness instructor. These injuries can often be avoided if we stop trying to be weekend warriors and make mindful movement and mobility a daily practice.

If you’re severely injured, or have pain stemming from a pathology “causing unaccounted weight loss or gain, changes in bladder or bowel function, night sweats, dizziness, fever, vomiting, or nausea”, don’t procrastinate; go get it checked out by your primary care doctor. But, if you’re dealing with muscular-skeletal pain from your bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves, it may be time to stop asking your healthcare provider what’s wrong with you. Instead, ask yourself what you could be doing wrong that’s contributing to your pain. If we can establish basic healthy lifestyle habits, such as getting enough sleep, water, wholesome food, and physical activity in our day, we may not have to burden our doctor and a stressed healthcare system about our pain.

One of the most common reasons we visit our doctor is for non-specific low back pain. The causes of back injuries and subsequent pain can relate to lifting and carrying or putting down objects, falls, and repetitive movement strains. However, many expert physiologists would argue the main cause relates to our sedentary lifestyle that promotes weight gain, and a lack of muscle tone and postural stability because our muscles get weak. The pain can be debilitating and costly, from taking days off of work, to psychosocial issues that can cause distress and worsen the pain.

From an evolutionary perspective, our bodies are not well adapted for prolonged sitting on cushy chairs or other forms of inactivity. Like it or not, we are bipedal primates who enjoy rest but need enough stimulus from upright movement such as walking, and also resistance training, to keep our muscular-skeletal system robust and out of pain. As simple as it may sound, studies have shown that a brisk walk, with more arm swing and postural awareness, can be effective in preventing, alleviating, and even treating back pain.

Humans are quite durable and tolerant of poor lifestyle habits, until the body has had enough. If we take care of our bodies now, the quality of our life goes way up as we age. Many of the muscular-skeletal injuries and subsequent pain issues that show up during our lives may seem like random events, when they could have been prevented by being more mindful of our bodies and taking responsibility for our health.

If you’re dealing with an injury or muscular-skeletal pain, or you just want to move better, feel better, and live pain-free, join the Be Resilient Project and sign up for our Functional Fitness and Movement/Mobility classes. Or if you want a one-on-one training, our personalized coaching programs can help!

Share Your Wellness Thoughts: Is there a lifestyle change that you have made, or that you could make, to help manage your muscular-skeletal pain?