Chronic pain, like so many other chronic conditions, is easier to prevent than to cure. If you are over fifty and lead the typical American sedentary lifestyle, many of your major muscle groups, like your abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, hip flexors, thigh muscles and chest and shoulder muscles are probably neglected. They are probably tight, harbor multiple contraction spots and function only through a small part of their normal range of motion. Consequently, they exert excessive tension on the joints they attach to and are susceptible to “pull” type injuries. If you do nothing about this and let this situation continue, you are highly likely to be on a glide path to a chronic pain episode if you have not already suffered one.
What is so often difficult to face is that we will have to devote part of our day to remedying this situation by engaging in some form of body maintenance of our skeletal muscles if we are to keep chronic pain at bay. It is ironic how most of us are quite willing to devote time trying to prevent other chronic diseases or at least keeping them in check. For example, we are quite willing to engage in some form of aerobic activity to avoid cardiovascular disease and we are quite willing to regularly brush and floss our teeth and have our teeth cleaned to avoid periodontal disease and tooth decay. However, when it comes to the biggest part of our body with at least half of our brain devoted to it, namely our skeletal musculature, we barely give it a thought, no less regularly tend to it.
There are many dire consequences to this neglect. Tight, shortened muscles are at the heart of so many chronic pain states that affect so many different parts of our body. If remedial steps are not taken, what is highly predictable, is that the situation will get worse and the muscles will continue to shorten and lose more of their normal, healthy range of motion. The consequences of this is that muscles will be placed under excessive tension, joints will be damaged and postural deformities will occur like rounded shoulders and bent over stances at the waist. In addition, changes will takes place in our normal pain circuits in our brain and spinal cord that will make us more susceptible to chronic pain. These changes, in turn, will lead to a decrease in our mobility and a loss of muscle strength. Such changes are at the heart of the state of age related decrepitude as well as the sense of not being able to get around much anymore like we used to and to feeling “old”.
What can we do to avoid riding down this dismal glide path? The answer is putting a daily three pronged approach together that will recapture and retain our muscles’ healthy, normal range of motion. Such a program will involve eliminating sites of contraction inside our muscles, trying to lengthen them by applying static stretches and moving them under load through their full range of motion. How to do this is for each of the major muscle groups in the body is outlined in detail in The Book which can be found at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/A-Way-Out-Of-Chronic-Pain