When Pushing Through Pain Isn’t the Best Option
Most of us are no strangers to pain. While some injuries may have us rushing off to the emergency room or family doctor, other aches and pains can get ignored. This is true especially if the source of pain stems from an enjoyable activity or hobby like gardening or daily runs or walks in the park. We may find ourselves “pushing through” the pain because we don’t want to stop doing our favorite activity.
Pain can be tough for doctors to pinpoint with patients as there can be so many different sources of pain from our usual routines that can be easily overlooked, says Dr. Ken Redcross, a board-certified internal medicine doctor.
“Unfortunately some patients are being prescribed treatments for acute pain that may be better suited for more severe or chronic pain,” Dr. Redcross said. “The best approach is to identify the triggers of the pain and opt for lifestyle modifications and nonprescription choices first.”
Some lifestyle modifications include adding regular exercise and stretching activities, like yoga, to help make your body stronger and more flexible. Hobbies like gardening or home improvement may not be a contact sport, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warm up those muscles first.
“Since most people view gardening as a relaxing hobby, they forget that it’s also a strenuous activity that your body is not accustomed to doing,” Dr. Redcross says, adding that increasing such wear and tear on the joints can lead to osteoarthritis.
Dr. Redcross recommends limiting gardening to 20-30 minutes at a time and if you go longer, to take frequent breaks. He also recommends using a homeopathic gel or cream like Boiron’s Arnicare, which is made from Arnica montana, a type of mountain daisy. Arnicare can provide relief of muscle aches or stiffness and can even reduce discoloration from bruising.
For runners and walkers, Dr. Redcross recommends orthotics and stability shoes plus icing the affected area for short-term relief. His long-term solutions include stretching and strengthening the muscles in and around your feet as well as avoid going barefoot. Stretching exercises that strengthen your calves are also helpful in breaking the cycle of pain, he said.