Hi Substance For You fans – the fitness guy is back; One Rep Marv! This week I was asked by the big bossman to write about my own experience about using blood flow and strategic exercise to possibly reduce some chronic pain. No studies, no scientific facts, this is just my opinion. Brian, the owner here at Substance For You, definitely threw me a curve ball with that last part of the request, but I’m stepping up to the plate regardless and taking a swing at it.
Chronic pain has been an issue of mine since the 6th grade when I had my very first major knee surgery. The surgery involved cutting out a tumor the size of a lemon and drilling holes into my growth plate as it had somehow “died” to re-store blood flow to the area. Before you freak out, don’t worry, I’m not going to recommend that drilling holes in your bones could help your body heal itself!
Now, add in a few other broken bones, plus torn ligaments, and arthritis for good measure to my injury count. Like I said, chronic pain has been a huge hurdle in my life, especially in my recovery. And I know that I'm not alone and neither are you. I'm here to prove that...
So what are some things that I’ve done to help me in my own journey? Simply getting my body moving has helped tremendously, and it may do the same for you. As long as I wasn’t doing activities that actively aggravated my injuries, I always felt better getting my blood pumping. These activities could be as simple as going for a walk, riding a stationary bike, doing some bodyweight squats in my living room, using light weights for curls and presses or modifying and whatever I could do that I felt helped and didn't push my boundaries too far.
I personally feel that getting my heart rate up and moving kept my body tissues from adhering to each other that would only make the pain worse. Getting blood flow to an injury site really helped my body heal itself so long as it wasn’t a tendonitis type situation. I learned that type of chronic pain demands rest!
Now that’s just the physical benefit that I found with getting my heart bumping and increasing my activity level. But the benefits of blood flow didn’t end there. I believe, 100%, that there was a huge mental component involved as well when I was able to celebrate the small victory that I was still able to be active; despite my pain. This greatly impacted my mental well-being.
I firmly believe that this helped me in my quest to overcome chronic pain or at least be able to handle it better than I had been, and avoid the excuse to get loaded and do whatever it took to stay loaded, all while playing the victim. I’m hoping it may just be the same escape and shot of positivity for you as well.
From personal experience, whenever I avoided movement at all costs, joints started to hurt whenever I moved at all, old aches and pains came back (especially with my knee), and I could feel my body just tightening up as if someone was take a screwdriver and cinching my body tighter and tighter. Sitting around didn’t do me any favors with my outlook on life either, trust me on that.
It should go without saying that every person’s situation is different. When it came to my wrist, my #1 leading candidate for daily chronic pain, I played with both ends of the spectrum between letting it rest and being extremely active. When I wore a wrist brace 24/7 the pain initially subsided but I could feel my muscles weakening and whenever I took the brace off. The pain was almost immediate with any use complemented by a lot of swelling. When I ignored this injury and tried to “push through” my regular daily life, the pain and swelling was even worse.
Finding that happy medium was vital for me. Today this means that I have to be prudent about how much I work out, how much I type, and how much I play guitar. If I do all three activities the pain and swelling is too much to bear and then no balance of rest versus activity is going to help. Like recovery, it’s a learning experience that takes time to find the right balance.
Concluding, blood flow and movement helped me with my chronic pain and various injuries. It may just do the same for you, but it's ultimately recommended you get advisement from a doctor before making any changes to any regular routine, firstly! And then remember that I took it easy, I didn’t push the envelope, and I found what worked best for me.
Sitting around and feeling sorry for myself was never a successful method so finding what worked was all part of the healing process. I’m hoping you may find a similar experience! Because just like sobriety, we do what works to keep us sober, we must also do what works for us to keep us in total body health too!