How Stress and Diet Relate to Pain
Ever been in a foreign country and tried to order off of a long, complicated, alien looking menu? Did you use hand signals to describe the dish you wanted? Did you whip out your phone and hope Google has the answers? And, in the end, did you just close your eyes and trust that what landed on your plate was pork, not pizza? Yes, this situation can be frustrating, especially when you don’t end up getting what you want! Well, let me tell you a secret… when you’re in pain, your body is frantically waving hand signals, pointing at pictures, and speaking in a foreign language. Why? Because it needs you to give it what it wants.
Few of us think of pain as a language, and yet, it is. Foreign though it may be to many people, it is, in fact, a very detailed and specific way of communication. When you stub your toe, for example, your brain sends you a signal that something is wrong. You hop around looking sheepish for a while, but you also realize that putting a plaster over the nail, putting your foot up a bit, and wearing shoes next time is the right thing to do. So why would it be different when it comes to chronic pain? Back pains through to knee pains all have one thing in common: they’re signals from the body.
And if your body is speaking to you – and for some of you reading this, it might be screaming at you – it’s time to take some notice. But, that having been said, it’s a little easier said than done sometimes. If you’ve experienced ongoing, debilitating pain, it’s not always easy to listen properly. You might just not understand. And that’s why it’s absolutely vital to take a step back and start looking at the two most important factors that might be contributing to your pain: stress and diet.
For many of us, this five letter word has been so overused we don’t really understand what it means anymore. For some folks, general stress can push them forward, motivating them to challenge their professional and personal boundaries. But others – including many of you reading this now – might not even know what a holiday or ‘me-time’ is anymore. Quite possibly, you (and them) have been so focused on your work, family, or other activities, that you’ve not taken a moment to notice what the ongoing, accumulative stress is doing to your body.
You see, stress is a bit like moving a bucket of water from one end of a football pitch to the other. Continuously. You’re so focused on moving the bucket over the outer boundary that you don’t feel your knees and back giving way. You just keep going. Eventually – inevitably – the water spills and, well, you’re left to clean up the mess.
Yet what would happen if you set the bucket down? The boundary would be more attainable, you would start being critical about the ultimate goal of your back-and-forth race, and you would begin to slow down, look up the sky, and start contemplating a trip to the beach. What do I mean? You would start living the life you deserve and, miraculously, your knees and back just might have a chance to recuperate and heal, given that you take actions which facilitate this.
In the case of emotional stress, too, the concept remains the same. Because the brain processes stress as a trauma, akin in many ways to PTSD, it therefore suffers from the effects of anxiety and stress for a while after the body actually experiences them. Again, this type of stress needs to be dealt with. Action needs to be taken, otherwise the metaphorical bucket will always be close to tipping.
The pain in your back, knees, ankles, and so forth, is your body telling you that something is very wrong with your routine. It’s time to listen. And, believe it or not, pain is not the only symptom of chronic stress: your appetite suffers too. Which brings us to signal number two…
So few people ever turn to how they fuel their body for answers relating to their chronic pain. And yet, there might be a direct link between the nutritional content of your food and the pain you’re going through.
Sugar, fat, and salt all contribute to the accumulation of a poor metabolism, fat storage in the body, poor blood pressure, and decreased circulation. The result? Pain. And sadly, as many people know, pain is really only the start. Cancer, diabetes, and a myriad of other diseases may well follow suit.
If you’re not sleeping, you’re experiencing chest pains, you’re suffering from panic attacks and headaches, and you’re feeling a general fatigue accompanying your pain, please take a look at what you’re ingesting. It’s absolutely vital to check-up on your diet.
Start including more vegetable and anti-oxidants into your diet. Include foods that are nutrient dense and well balanced. The key to health is to listen to your body, and a lack of appetite, an over-active appetite, or a generally nutrient deficient calorie intake, is a clear signal from your body to regroup and reconstruct your food choices.
Stress and diet are clear forms of language: when out of balance, they’re your body’s way of producing pain so that you are able to take notice and take action. Knowing which choices to make in order to alleviate your pain is absolutely vital. That’s exactly why we invite you to contact us, right now. For the best advice, professional hands-on physical therapy, and support you can count on, contact us today. We’re here to help. It’s time to start listening to your body, getting rid of stress, eating right, and accessing the pain free life you deserve.
Call us today and take action!
Golf… it’s a sport that calls to mind beautiful Saturday mornings, a cold beer at the club after a great 18-hole day, and that elusive birdie you’ve been trying to get for years. And while this all sounds pretty much idyllic, you might be surprised to know that playing golf causes nearly as many injuries as some contact sports! It’s true, and while shocking, it actually makes a lot of sense. The techniques players employ in their swings, gaits, and strokes, often have painful consequences for the back and shoulders. In fact, shoulder pain is so common amongst golfers that it has fast become one of the injuries we treat most often. So, in this post we chat to you about what it means to have shoulder pain, how you know it’s golf-related, and what to do if you’re suffering from it right now. With that having been said, let’s tee up and get started!
For all you golfing enthusiasts out there, the title probably makes some sense. No doubt you’ve yelled ‘fore’ out onto the green after miscalculating the wind gusts, right? Well, just as you might warn the unsuspecting golfers out ahead of you, so too your body yells its equivalent of ‘fore’ at you when it’s in distress and pain. Really, as you’re playing golf you might actually feel a tug, a pull, or even discomfort in your shoulder as you swing – that’s your body telling you to ‘watch out’ and ‘look out ahead’. In fact, it’s your body’s extremely sophisticated way of warning you about probable damage and/or injury to your shoulder if you continue swinging the way you are. And yet, despite this impressive alarm system, many golfers continue to swing through the pain as though it will disappear on its own. And what a mistake that is! For those who ignore the signs, shoulder pain is really just a few yards away.
Well, what happens if you’ve ignored the warning signs and are now experiencing shoulder pain and discomfort? What does that mean and what can be done? One thing to understand is that the shoulder is a complex joint; the movement and mobility of it hinges on the rotator cuff, that is, the section of your shoulder made up of muscles and tendons designed to keep your arm in the socket of your shoulder. Hence, shoulder pain in this area is often referred to as a rotator cuff injury and, yes, you guessed it, these are most commonly seen amongst avid golfers.
It’s not too difficult to take a guess as to why the rotator cuff is at risk during a golf game. The movement involved in swinging your club actually places massive amounts of strain on the rotator cuff, causing the muscles and tendons to twist and bend in ways that are mostly unnatural to them. So, while repeatedly swinging a golf club overhead may well be great for your game, it’s not equally as good for your shoulder. The constant, unvarying repetition of a single incorrect movement can, in fact, wreak havoc later down the line. In effect, golf actually places your shoulder at a much highest risk of injury than almost any other sport.
And, unfortunately, the pain that accompanies a rotator cuff injury is far from pretty. Symptoms include the following:
In addition to all of the above, experiencing a shoulder injury while you are playing golf means that all aspects of your life will be affected. From your actual game, to your social life, family life, and peace of mind. We have met so many patients who, before coming to see us, have felt completely defeated by their golfing injuries.
So, what can be done? If you haven’t yet experienced an injury, that’s great. However, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. It is absolutely vital that you learn the correct golfing posture and swinging technique in order to avoid injuries in the future. A physical therapist will gladly help you with this information. Wear the right golfing gear, too, and be mindful of the weight you carry out on the green.
If, however, you are currently experiencing shoulder pain related to golf, the best possible action you can take is to visit a qualified, hands-on, professional physical therapist. A physical therapist will treat the root cause of your problem, thereby relieving pain effectively and safely and making sure that your recovery is a permanent one. There are no temporary solutions, here. Furthermore, a physical therapist will give you specific, tailor-made exercises that you can do at home in order to ensure that you remain pain free. What’s more, you’ll learn the correct techniques for the best golf game of your life. You know as well as we do that your golfing prowess is less about how hard you swing the club, but much more about how you do it. Find out what’s best for you by visiting a physical therapist today.
We know how debilitating shoulder pain can be, especially if you love golf. Unfortunately, getting back into the swing of things can be a struggle. If you’re not sure how to do it, or where to start, we invite you to talk to one of our professional, friendly physical therapists, today. We’ll eliminate your pain and get you back to playing the game you love. Ask below about cost and availability.
John Salva, PT
"We help people in pain get back to the things they want without relying on surgery or painkillers, even if past treatments have failed."