I Beat Chronic Pain By Getting Fit…
Having devoted most of my adult life to remaining at least somewhat fit, I can say that in the last few years, where I took it to the next level, provided a few happy surprises. Chief among them, the fact that I can live a relatively pain-free life. When I was younger, 18 years-old and fairly lazy, I had a lot of back pain. I was a thin kid, so it wasn’t weight. If I had to guess at a “cause”, it would be two things: I suffered a trauma or three to my back and I had an incredibly weak core.
I am a big believer in simplicity. While we are complex beings, our care and maintenance, it seems to me, is quite simple. For the vast majority of us, if we eat well and stay active our bodies will treat us well in return. I am also a firm believer in the body’s ability to adapt to the stress caused by getting fit as well. The question is, when you’re not fit just what should we expect as far as pain goes?
I won’t be blowing smoke when I say that getting fit hurts. Building muscles and burning fat does cause pain but I think what gets lost is the fact that it won’t always hurt like that. I believe that contributing factor to the myth that maintaining fitness hurts is professional sports. You see pro athletes retiring in their mid to late thirties siting the pain of maintaining the level of fitness required to perform at that level more times than not as a reason for retirement – so most normal folks mistakenly believe that performing at any level as they age becomes too painful. The problem here is leaving out the “to perform at that level” part. When maintaining a fit lifestyle, we’re not talking about anything near a professional level and as we age, who’s to say we can’t slow down a little bit? The idea is to keep moving.
My personal experience has been that once I got fit, my level of day-to-day pain decreased exponentially. Last year was a fantastic year for me in terms of pain management… It was also my most active. This year was almost identical that of last year and it was, up until last week, even better. Now, choice of activity will no doubt cause a variation in results – more impact will lead to longer adjustment periods before the body responds or grows accustomed to the activity so choose wisely but make sure to include at least some impact in there.
I’ve found, without a doubt, that maintaining a decent level of fitness leads to as pain-free an existence as possible. The trick was sticking with the activity long enough for my body to adapt and grow into it. Now that I’ve got an excellent base under my belt, with very few exceptions, I’m living a pain-free life that I always dreamt about. In fact, if I ever want to remember how much pain I was in before I was fit, all I have to do is take a week off. Of course, consult your doctor first (so on and so forth).
This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I have a lot of friends and family members who use pain (or the fear of it) as an excuse to become more sedentary when the answer is to become more active. I’ve seen this all too often – nobody is immune to aging but staying active is the only fountain of youth that I’ve ever seen work consistently.