When I think back to my younger years of intense physical activity, I can still hear the piercing scream of my gruff footy coach … “push through the pain barrier” and my favorite “get some bloody mongrel in you!!” To push through those grueling pre-season training sessions of hill sprints, gut runs, and burpees, you needed some encouragement. Let’s face it, when you feel like your lungs are about to explode and a spew is only minutes away, both your mind and body is telling you one thing… stop!
I think a lot of us would agree that motivational quotes can help us get through some challenging times in our life that cause pain, in a physical, mental, or social/spiritual context. To grow stronger in a physical or mental context, suffering is sometimes the price we pay to gain something we want. There is often the common belief that greater value and reward exists for those who put in the effort, work hard, and endure some pain… let’s face it life was never meant to be easy.
Pain is a word we regularly use at RMHI and we often come across people with various levels of physical pain and/or emotional pain (brought on by various situational distressors). While pain is uncomfortable and unpleasant, it is usually there to tell us something is wrong. Ironically, the initial stages of pain protect us from further injury by initiating a reaction to protect what has been damaged. Pain can go from being a small nuisance which makes us irritable, all the way to full on, debilitating or chronic pain. This persistent or chronic pain can even involve the pain system becoming overprotective resulting in pain sensations being present even when the body tissues are safe or our injury/illness has healed. Pain is different for everyone but here are some basic tips we should all use to manage it:
- Getting a correct diagnosis in a timely manner: Booking in with a GP (to get a referral), physio, or psychologist (when it comes to emotional pain) can help pinpoint the cause of our pain.
- Keeping active: This is a tough one because when we are in pain it can sometimes be hard to get moving. Adapted exercise and movements can be prescribed by a physio; just getting outdoors boosts endorphins which can improve mood and block pain signals.
- Pain medication: Some of us can be hesitant to take stronger pain relief because it can affect our ability to function normally and operate heavy machinery. But medication can be the key to reducing inflammation and pain which helps us to get moving and regain our function quicker.
- Assess our diet: Certain foods and excessive alcohol use can contribute to inflammation and weight gain, especially when we are not moving as much as we normally would.
- Alternative treatments and relaxation: Things like massage, acupuncture, meditation, listening to music and even the use of ice and heat can be a good starting point. Finding ways to relax is vital.
While I have always been one for getting out, enjoying life, and taking a few risks, I now understand those words of warning from mentors in my life… “you’re going to regret that one day!” So, take care of those aches and pains because trying to push through the pain barrier will not necessarily help in the long run.
By The Regional Men’s Health Initiative