Chronic pain is so common that it affects almost all of us at one time or another. A poor diet, lack of exercise, and chronic repetitive motion (like sitting at a computer screen for eight hours a day) often trigger pain. The most common cause of pain is our inflammatory diet—processed food laden with sugar, trans fat, and refined oil. Hidden or subtle food sensitivities can also cause chronic inflammation. The most common triggers are wheat, gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut), and dairy. Eliminating these foods for two weeks can often dramatically reduce pain and inflammation.
Lack of exercise and stretching and hunching over a computer all day are a big source of back, shoulder, and neck pain. And lastly, lack of sleep (we sleep two hours less each night now than we did 100 years ago) can increase muscle pain and inflammation.
Certain super nutrients, including omega-3 fats found in fish oil and turmeric found in curry, can also help reduce inflammation. In fact, turmeric is often called nature’s ibuprofen.
Here are some simple things you can do to reduce pain and inflammation:
. Eliminate processed and junk food.
. Dramatically reduce or eliminate sugar.
. Do a two-week trial of an elimination diet, getting rid of all gluten and dairy.
. Try turmeric, taken as one 500mg capsule twice a day.
. Take 2–3 grams a day of EPA/DHA (fish oil).
. Exercise—walking 30 minutes a day is a good start.
. Sleep eight hours a night.
. Try stretching exercises, including back and shoulder pain-relieving yoga exercises:
Cobra or Back Extensions—hold for two minutes
Bridge Pose—hold for one minute
Pelvic Tilts—do 30 tilts
Knee To Chest—hold each knee for 30 seconds and both together for 30 seconds
Knee-Drop Side Twist—hold for 15–30 seconds
Hip Flexor Lunge—hold for 30 seconds on each side
Half-Pigeon Pose on Back—hold each side for 30 seconds
Cat and Dog Stretch—do 30 times
Yoga Mudra Shoulder Stretch—hold for one minute
Mark Hyman, MD