“Dem bones, dem bones . . . The head bone (is) connected to the neck bone.”
Each system in your body is interconnected. And your physical body is intimately related to your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
The good news is the body does its best to mend, especially with injuries involving bones, joints and muscles. Give your body time to heal. Usually for every “down” day, plan two to three days to recover.
The more you know, the less you have to fear. It is easy to become fearful, especially when in pain. Mental and emotional stress can lead to physical problems that cause muscles to tighten and increase pain. Stress and anxiety can decrease sleep, which slows healing and increases pain. Worry about things out of our control can be overwhelming.
The more you know, the better you can help your body and mind heal with time by managing pain and by minimizing fear, stress, anxiety and worry. Break tasks and issues into small, doable steps. Decrease stress in the following ways: Exercise, walk, breathe deeply, pray, meditate, perform relaxation techniques and write thoughts and concerns in a journal. Accept help from others. Do for others; helping others takes our attention off our own pain and worries. As our brain can focus on only one thing at a time, we have the power to choose where our attention lies.
The more you know, the more tools you can use well. Tools to decrease physical pain include ice packs, heat (including hot showers and baths), pools, pillows for support and positioning, gentle exercise and sleep. Drink water. Give your body and brain good nutrition.
Let your body guide you. When the more you do, the better you feel, continue. When stretching, increased motion and decreased pain is good. When you notice decreased motion and/or increased pain, stop. Strengthening exercises must be pain-free.
Ice or Heat?
A frequently asked question I encounter is: When do I use ice or heat to decrease pain? The bottom line is that both ice and heat increase circulation; improved blood flow helps the body heal. Ice is best immediately after an injury as well as with really sharp pain, muscle spasm, or inflammation (hot, red, swollen tissue). Heat is better with more chronic conditions, low-grade pain, or when the area is more stiff than painful. Apply ice or heat up to 20 minutes, three to five times a day, as needed.
Pour about two pounds of uncooked rice into a long sock. Tie/sew to close. Place in microwave for about two minutes or until comfortably warm. A second rice sock can be kept in the freezer and used as an ice pack.
The more you know, the better you can help your body. You can enhance healing by giving it time, managing pain, improving blood flow, eating right, sleeping and minimizing fear, stress, anxiety and worry. Do what you can do to help your body/mind/soul to heal.
We can learn to better manage our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Doranne Long is a physical therapist in Grant Pass and the author of “Your Body Book Guide,” published in 2012. She will present “Is Your Body Falling Apart?” at the Sept. 13 Conference on Extraordinary Living at Umpqua Community College. To register, visit regonline.com/extraordinary2013. Long can be reached through her website, YourBodyBook.com.