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Don’t Fight Chronic Muscle Pain

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Writers, like everyone else, tend to get lost in their work. Perhaps you are sitting for hours at a time at your computer in a poorly designed chair; then when you do get up, everything is stiff and sore. It may take quite some time to work out the kinks. However, as the years pass, you find that it has reached the chronic pain level. It doesn’t matter how much you wiggle, you still hurt.

If you have chronic muscle pain and have had no accidents that might have caused it, perhaps it is a lifestyle problem that can be corrected. Chronic muscle pain causes other related illnesses like fatigue and depression. When something in your body isn’t right or is out of balance, your nervous system kicks in to let your brain know that there is a problem. The initial pain is to get your attention. Something has happened that your body doesn’t like. Sometimes you merely need to change how you stand or sit or walk.

Assuming you don’t have a disease like chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s, or fibromyalgia, pain’s job is to slow you down long enough to figure out what is different. It tells you to be more careful or to be more respectful of your body. Chronic pain does its best to get your attention and to hold it until you change whatever caused it. Sometimes, though, the message is difficult to interpret. You feel the pain, but you aren’t sure what is causing it.

Living with certain problems and irritations every day makes you an expert in that field and enables you to write from your perspective. The positive aspect is that you might be able to get a really good article or story out of it. However, the negative aspect is that chronic pain should not be normal. When you do not pay attention to what your body tells you, you risk injury.

When you ignore, or stop listening, to your body signaling you of the pain and continue the behavior that causes the pain, you get the constant, unrelieved sensation that is then hard to overlook. Sitting slumped or twisted at a computer for hours every day as you write puts tremendous pressure and strain on your neck, back and shoulders. You hyperextend those muscles and stretch them out of alignment. The muscles are always trying to return to normal and pull on your spine and skeletal system. Over time, these muscles lose their elasticity and tone (in essence, they give up trying to be normal) and they become hardened and rigid. This puts stress on the skeleton and in some cases leads to scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.

The result of all this is chronic pain in your back and in your muscles. The weak muscles do not properly support the skeletal system. It is a domino effect that builds as the initial pain is ignored. Lack of movement and flexibility can then lead to reduced elasticity in the connective tissue of your muscles, and this can cause muscle stiffness, rigidity and pain. Paying attention and listening to your body is essential. Try to find out what is causing the back pain and see if there is anything you can do to alleviate it. Sit in a different say, take frequent stretching breaks, sleep in a different position, exercise with and without weights. It may take some detective work on your part; but when the pain is gone, it will be worth it.

Some kinds of back pain are caused by weak stomach muscles. Your stomach muscles are crucial for supporting your back. Without them, you would not be able to sit or stand straight. If your stomach muscles become lax, a chain reaction occurs. The muscles along your spine become lax and nonsupporting as well, which can translate into a sore back. Normal aging causes muscles in all parts of your body to become less flexible and strong. Attention to your body and its needs, supplying it with a healthy diet, and frequent exercise will delay the onset of chronic pain.

All types of exercise that target your stomach, shoulder, and back muscles are ways to combat chronic pain assuming no other physical conditions apply. Changes in the way you sit as you write, stand, or walk can relieve the pain and help restore your muscles to normalcy. Yoga, pilates, and other forms of stretching help restore elasticity and flexibility. The slow, relaxed movements help to open up tight and stiff areas of your body. Various stretches tone the muscles of your neck and spine and open up your upper chest.

Weight training strengthens your body so that your musculoskeletal system gets the support it needs from different muscles. There are a wide variety of exercise programs available on CD and in fitness centers that address the particular area that is causing the chronic pain. A combination of awareness, exercise, and lifestyle changes will, in most cases, eliminate the chronic pain.

In some instances, the position in which you sleep can cause neck or back pain and aggravate areas that are already painful. If your mattress is quite new, you could try a neck pillow that supports the curve created by your shoulders, neck and head. This pillow takes some of the weight from your neck so that your muscles can rest and recuperate.

If you normally lie on your back, you might try putting a small pillow under your knees. This relieves the pressure on your lower back. Sleeping on your side causes tension on your spine. A pillow between your knees relieves the body weight pulling on your back muscles. If these don’t work, or if your mattress is old and saggy, a new mattress might be your only recourse.

Treat every day as a chance to restore your body’s natural elasticity and flexibility as you write, play, or go about daily activities. Soon it will become a habit. When you listen to what your body is trying to tell you and correct harmful behavior, it rewards you with strength, agility, and wellness. When you do not have to fight the pain all the time, you have more energy, have a positive attitude, and are able to write better.


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