By Peter San Nicolas
I was recently speaking with a lady, let’s call her Valerie, at the club a few weeks ago as she was coming out of her massage treatment with one of our fabulous massage therapists. She had what I call her “massage face” on. This is not to be confused with hungover face although the two really are quite similar: Eyes a little groggy and out of focus, face a tad bit squished from the massage table face cradle, mostly happy, and slightly unaware of her surroundings. Get the picture? I was finishing my workout and said to her, “Feeling pretty good from your massage? Isn’t the therapist great?”
I usually try to get some sort of body work at least three times per month and sometimes more if I can squeeze into their schedule between their clients. Why in the world would one need massage that often? After speaking with Valerie for a bit, I came to find out that she lives in chronic pain and has some spinal fusions and a number of injuries from car accidents.
I also suffer from chronic pain as do over 1.5 billion people in the world. I was, as a child, and am today, an extremely active person and somewhere between BMX crashes and 23 years of intense weight training I blew a disc in my neck at levels C5 and C6. In fact many clients that come into the club also suffer from pain.
Yeah I know, I like to bring the pain during my training sessions, but in a good way. I’m not talking about short-term muscle soreness that workouts can cause, but ongoing, daily pain.
So what do you do when you suffer from chronic pain?
Number one, do not succumb to inactivity! There most always is some sort of physical activity that you can do that is not going to exacerbate your pain. So don’t stay cooped up inside with your Vicodin, Ibuprofen or whatever it is you’re taking, Get moving and here’s why.
When exercising, some say only at intense levels, I disagree, the body releases chemicals, which help your body tap into its own internal pain reliever, endorphins. Interesting fact that speaking with a stranger, public speaking or even eating a red hot chili pepper will do the same. Huh, that’s funny, I like to do all of those... Exercise is also going to get blood flowing and will help the body release toxins and cortisol.
Secondly, when exercising know what you can and cannot do. This many times can be a system of trial and error, or you could also meet with a physical therapist and they could give you recommendations as well as one of my trainers at the club. Joey Davis-Scholl is one of the trainers that really does an outstanding job of working with injuries and getting people back to living. I used to really love doing heavy squats and at 16 years old was able to squat 500 pounds holding the bar at the base of my neck. Guess what, not the best exercise to do when you have a herniated disc. Eliminate movements that cause you pain. I know, profound! “When I do this, it hurts.” “Don’t do that!”
Lastly, focus on your Three R’s: Recovery, Rehab, and Relaxation. That is exactly what our dear friend Valerie was doing. Instead of just popping more pain meds, she chose to get a massage and relax the muscles that were causing her discomfort. Massage therapists are trained in many different modalities and techniques that really do make you feel better. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, or an extremely active person, there must be a spot in your life for the three R’s.
Please check out my new website www.ramonastrainer.com for this week’s Workout of the Week video, “Partner Workout” and how you can get started on your path to you, only better!
I can be reached at the club at 760-789-3500.