As you know, about one in five adults in the U.S suffer from chronic pain. This refers to pain that usually lasts longer than 12 weeks and can be dull, sharp, throbbing, or burning. It can be a primary condition or caused by an injury or illness. Pain management is key to leading a comfortable life. We don’t want you to be dependent on meds though, so we’re sharing natural ways to ease this!
Diaphragmatic deep breathing refers to flexing your diaphragm muscles (in the middle of your abdomen and chest). You’ll get the hang of it as this is something natural. If you feel your stomach expanding, you’re doing it right.
What can this do for pain management? It loosens up tense muscles and helps you relax while alleviating anxiety.
Mindfulness meditation can have wonderful effects in general, but it can also be a great tool when it comes to pain management. Practicing is key! Stepping away from your thoughts can be hard (especially if you’re experiencing pain). Meditation aims for you to stay present while being aware of your thoughts and body.
This may seem like an obvious one, but sleeping is key in helping your body healing itself. Insomnia is not uncommon for people with chronic pain, thus can turn into a vicious cycle. Chronic pain leads to insomnia and vice versa. It’s not an unbreakable cycle though. A few actions you can take to sleep better are:
Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
Practice breathing before you go to sleep.
Chat with your doctor if nothing else helps!
Daily movement benefits your overall health. Chronic pain should not stop you from staying physically active. If practiced correctly, exercise can decrease your chronic pain’s severity.
Combine cardio and strength training such as walking and swimming. Begin slowly and then gradually increase the intensity of your workout.
For your body to control inflammation, you need to have a balanced diet. Chronic pain is usually caused by chronic inflammation, so picking the correct foods (and saying no to others!) is important. Try a high-protein diet, avoid high-carbohydrate drinks, and limit your juice, milk, sugary sodas intake. Vitamin-mineral supplements with vitamin D and vitamin B12 can work wonders.
While it’s your body that FEELS the pain, it’s your mind that interprets it. A way to deal with pain is to keep your mind distracted. A creative hobby not only aids in this, but also reduces stress. Being an artist is not a requirement. The key is to pick an activity that makes you happy (gardening, volunteering, or fishing are all great). Make time for hobbies that bring you joy.
Stretching is both accessible and easy. You don’t need to go to the gym or need to purchase any equipment. A simple way to start off? Sitting on the floor and reaching for your toes. This stretch uses your legs, back, core, and arms. Yoga includes many of the things we’ve talked about (meditation, stretching, and deep breathing!). This activity helps your mobility, flexibility, and strength. Try out this easy beginner pose:
Stand with your feet spread one leg-length apart.
Point your toes forward. Your right toes should be out 90 degrees, forming a T with your other one.
Spread your arms outward wide. Place your right hand down leaning towards your inner right thigh and then sliding your hand down your leg to your ankle. Then pull your arm to the ceiling.
Pull your face up so that it's looking at your left hand.
Hold for about five to eight breaths and then repeat on the other side.
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