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Category: back pain

Incorporating meditation into a daily routine to help relieve aches and pains

Does meditation actually help to reduce pain?

In short, yes. Meditation may help reduce chronic pain.

But it’s not a direct link. The type of pain you have matters when taking this into account.

People living with chronic neck or back pain (usually 3 or more months), end up suffering from other things such as depression or low mood as well as other mental health issues. Dealing with these on top of chronic pain can become debilitating because it ends up being a never-ending cycle. The depression leads to feeling more pain and the pain leads to feeling worse.

One thing that has been shown to help reduce that pain and disrupt this cycle is meditation.

Many people run away at the thought of meditation but I assure you, if you can be in a place where you can just focus on your breath, that is meditation.

You don’t need to do anything fancy for it to be called meditation. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be called a meditation. It can be me-time, alone-time, quiet time, nature time, or relaxation time. Just forget about what we call it because that’s the least important thing.

For you, just being away from others in a place where you feel safe and are away from stressful things or people might be enough. Or you may wish to be surrounded by nature as research shows that simply being in nature can have profound health effects.

I’m going to take you through a very simple meditation process that anyone can do anywhere:
meditation
STEP 1:

Find a place where you can be alone or undisturbed for at least 1 minute. This can be in your bed before you start the day or at the end of the day, in the shower/bath, in your car before you get out if you are alone or as soon as you get in, a quiet room in your home or work, a coffee shop, while on a walk, in a park, etc. The possibilities are endless.

STEP 2:

Connect with your breath. This means being aware of your breathing. Is it shallow up in the chest? Let’s move it down to the belly. You should feel your chest stay mostly still while the belly rises and falls. If it helps, place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest so you can feel the rise and fall. This works better when you lie down on your back. Take breaths in and out through the nose, keeping the mouth closed. You can be seated, standing, lying down, it doesn’t matter.

STEP 3:

Do this for at least one minute. When you start feeling distracted, come back to the breath. Just keep focusing on the inhale and exhale.

Congratulations! You’ve meditated!

See how easy that was? Note how you feel now. Do it more frequently or for a longer period of time if you don’t feel different.

Breathing allows us to slow down our heart rate if it’s racing. If you are feeling stressed or in pain, your heart rate might be through the roof. That’s helpful if we need to run from a bear but not helpful if there isn’t any actual danger. It also directly affects your vagus nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it brings you into the rest & digest (parasympathetic) state of relaxation.

When we are stressed, it can tighten up our muscles, causing us to breathe through our chest (shallow breathing) and that can actually lead to neck pain and headaches.

Breathing also helps to reduce inflammation. When there is too much inflammation present in the body, this causes an increased sensation to pain. Essentially, you are just more sensitive to pain. It can take months to reduce inflammation but breathing is a quick way to do it.

Meditation has been shown to decrease inflammation in the brain which can improve our mood but also reduce the perception of pain. Reducing inflammation can reduce our body’s sensitivity to pain so we feel it less. It has also been shown to affect our neural pathways – this means the pathways created that focus on feeling pain get rerouted towards not feeling pain. The stronger we can make these new pathways (ie. meditating consistently), the less likely we are to experience the pain (or at least it won’t feel as bad as it once was).

By now you can see that meditation or simply finding some time for our breath can be so helpful and you don’t need anything fancy to do it.

GUIDED MEDITATIONS

If you enjoyed this and want to follow a guided meditation, click here to download my Sleep Guide so you can wake up tomorrow with less pain, which includes my Body Scan Meditation. It’s just 4 minutes long and it focuses on relaxing your entire body. You may feel a difference in your pain levels in just 4 minutes and it may help you sleep better too 😉

There are also plenty of apps out there that have some great guided meditations when you are ready. Some you can just have some background music to help you feel even calmer if you don’t want to listen to a voice and just want to focus on breathing. My fave app is Insight Timer.

Let me know how you feel after these meditations. I love hearing from you and seeing how these small things can make a powerful difference. Send me a DM here on Instagram.

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Disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only. Please read the Disclaimer here.

How to set goals to relieve pain and actually reach them

How to set goals to relieve pain and actually reach them

Goal Setting –

a topic that comes up every January (or perhaps December for my fellow ambitious entrepreneurs. I see you!)

You might be wondering, why do I need to set goals to relieve pain? Or, I don’t need this, I know my goal is that I want to get rid of the pain.

Okay, that’s cool and everything but the importance of setting a goal is to give you some direction, kinda like GPS, so you know where you are going. This helps you figure out which things you need to do daily or weekly to get closer to where you want to be.

Without actually setting a goal, it’s like getting in your car and just driving without a destination. While it’s fun and exciting along the way, you probably won’t know where you want to go.

Step 1: Choose where you want to go. This is your end goal.

In order to choose the right goal for you, many things come into play.

How much time do you have to dedicate?
How bad do you really want it?
Are you willing to make changes to your lifestyle or current habits?
How quickly do you need it to happen?


These are just a few questions you need to start thinking about.

When it comes to chronic pain, the shortest amount of time it takes (typically) to heal is 3 months to a year with a strategic plan working with a practitioner. Working on your own without any help, it could take 1 year to several years. Just some things to keep in mind when you choose your timeline.

You also want to make your goals SMART.

Specific – exactly what you want to achieve

Measurable – using objective measures to know when you have reached your goal or can see yourself making progress, for example a pain scale from 0-10.

Achievable – something that is actually possible for you depending on where you are on your health journey.

Realistic – you can’t hit your goals magically. There is work involved no matter what it is you want to do. How much effort are you willing to put in? It has to make sense with your lifestyle and what changes you are willing to make.

Time-bound – You want to have a loose deadline. It doesn’t need to be set in stone. This just gives you an idea of how much work it might take to get there. If you choose 3 months from now, you’ll be working a lot harder than someone doing the same thing as you but chooses the slow path of 1 year to reach the same destination. Neither one is wrong. It depends on what you want.

Take some time and write out what you want. Here’s an example below to give you some more guidance:

Jessica has been feeling pain for 4 years now. She has tried a bunch of stuff at home but she hasn’t really found anything that really takes the pain away. It is always temporary relief and she wants a better solution. An actual fix to the problem. No more band-aid solutions or pain meds. This is Jessica’s goal broken into it’s SMART components:

S – manage pain to the point where daily activities are pain-free

M – get down from 7-8/10 constantly to a 1-3/10 occasionally

A/R – I am willing to spend about 1 hour a day to reach this goal and make all the changes necessary by following a plan laid out for me

T – I can do this within 3-4 months since I am working with a coach or practitioner

Now that you have your end goal, we can work backwards from there to know what is needed to get to it.

Step 2: Figure out which areas you need the most support in

In this case, Jessica in the example above wants to speed things up as much as possible. Why be in pain longer than is necessary!? She’s willing to spend the money in order to save time and achieve better health so she can actually feel good. She’s done the whole lone-wolf thing and she’s over it because she’s in the exact same position as she was 4 years ago, maybe even slightly worse.

Jessica has an idea of where she is going because she set up her goal. Now when she works with her coach or practitioner, they can give her the next steps to take and in the right order so she isn’t wasting her time.

If you are doing this on your own, these are the areas that you will need to look at and make some changes for yourself:
Quick Pain Relief

Find something that works for you to relieve pain quickly at the beginning. This can also be helpful on the days where the pain gets worse and you feel like you are moving backwards in terms of progress.

Nutrition

Following an anti-inflammatory protocol or at the very least, removing the processed foods, sugar, and alcohol causing inflammation.

Your Environment

The environment you surround yourself in – both people and things. Are they toxic? Full of chemicals? Negativity? Try to avoid, minimize, or remove these from your life.

Get Aligned

Increase the positivity and get aligned with your soul. Gratitude and affirmations can move things forward here as well as looking at what you spend your time doing. Do you really love it?

Stress

Address the stress. Not stressed? Your body probably would tell you otherwise. Just because you don’t perceive stress mentally, it doesn’t mean your body can’t feel it physically. Meditation and breathwork can be really helpful.

Move your body every. single. day!

This is non-negotiable. It can be anything you love – walking, yoga, dancing, weight-lifting, running, whatever it is. Stretching is helpful but it won’t solve your problems.

Posture

It could be helpful to look at your posture. Change positions frequently. You don’t need perfect posture.

Sleep

Are you sleeping 7-9 hours a night? Do you wake up feeling stiff, sore, tired, or achy? Are you waking up through the night? Can you find a position to sleep in that’s comfortable? What bed and pillow are you using? Do you find it difficult to fall asleep? Try working on your sleep.

Support Your Entire Body

Make sure you are supporting your ENTIRE body and all its systems. Pain isn’t a separate thing. Everything you do/do not do can contribute to your pain. This is why you need a holistic approach to get rid of it for good. That includes your lymphatic system, liver, and guts.

Strengthen

Strengthen your body. Do specific exercises for the area of concern. If you have back pain, you need to do back-specific exercises. These don’t need to be boring or hard. Look into mobility exercises and core strength.

Supplements

Add in supplements once you’ve done the above. Work with your practitioner to choose what’s right for you and your specific needs. Popular ones can include magnesium, fish oils, and curcumin.

Now that you know what areas you might need to look at, focus on the top 3 things that are in need of the most support and start there. Once you hit those 3 goals, focus on 3 new areas.

Step 3: Break down the areas into smaller monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

For example, working on your sleep. Here is how you could break that down.

Lets say your sleep is totally garbage and you can’t remember the last time you slept well. This might be your current biggest priority. If you are willing to spend even 15 minutes a day working on your sleep, that’s better than nothing.

Breaking down that 15 minutes you’ve dedicated to sleep:

Monthly goal:

This month I want to go from sleeping at 1am to 11pm.

Weekly goal:

I will spend each week focusing on one particular habit to change in order to do this in one month – reducing screen time, incorporating a bedtime routine, blocking blue light, and reducing caffeine intake during the day.

Daily goals:
Week 1: Reduce screen time
  • no screens 1 hour before bed
Week 2: Incorporate a bedtime routine
  • incorporate relaxing things into a short bedtime routine such as meditation or breathwork
Week 3: Block blue light
  • install or setup blue light filters on all screens after sunset (including the phone, computer, TV, tablet, etc.)
Week 4: Reduce caffeine
  • no caffeine after 12pm each day

Now that you are sleeping better, you might notice that you have less stiffness in the morning, more energy throughout the day so you can get more done, you feel better when moving your body, and you are able to fall asleep faster. So many wins! Oh, and of course – less pain 😉

Be Consistent

After doing these tasks consistently (consistency is key), you start creating new healthy habits. For more info on how to create healthy habits that stick, make sure you read or listen to one of my fave books, Atomic Habits by James Clear.

This is how you make changes stick and this is how you get closer to your goals.

In no time, you’ll be feeling much less pain by actually focusing on the things that will get you closer to that goal instead of following the advice of Dr. Google or that Insta influencer with that bomb new unsustainable workout routine that has nothing to do with your health goals.

Need help? Book a free call with me. I’d be more than happy to help you how to get closer to your goals, even if that doesn’t mean working with me.

Disclaimer

What I can do for you as a chiropractor in a virtual appointment

What I can do for you as a chiropractor in a virtual appointment

The Virtual Appointment

Yes, I said a virtual appointment with a chiropractor.

Chiropractors are known as doctors that adjust the pain away but I assure you, we can do MUCH more.

Adjustments are helpful to reduce pain quickly but that’s not the only solution. There are many things you can do at home for long-term pain relief.

No, it doesn’t feel the same, but passive treatments (where the doctor does all the work) only last temporarily. They don’t fix you or your pain. It’s only a matter of minutes, days, weeks, or months before it comes back.

What’s Causing Your Pain

Think about it this way: it takes many years of having poor muscle coordination, nerve impingements, muscle weakness, imbalances, or injuries before you even start to FEEL pain. That means something you’ve been doing (and you probably don’t even realize) is leading you to feel this way. Only YOU can fix this, helping your body to function at it’s best.

Healthy muscles don’t feel tight or sore or even have any pain associated with them.

Pressing on these muscles will only help relieve that pain for some time, but the muscle needs to be stronger in order to do it’s job properly. Without that strength, you body now has to rely on other muscles to do the job. After years of this muscle being weak, it’ll start to tear, cause pain and inflammation, be more prone to injury, and cause all the muscles around it to work a LOT harder. That means they will tire out and start becoming weak from overuse, painful, and inflamed as well!

As a chiropractor, I am trained to see these instabilities, muscle weaknesses, and areas that need some TLC. We can do all of that virtually. I can see you through a secure video call and we can develop a plan to address your health goals.

Sure, that one muscle might seem like it’s causing all your pain and that’s perhaps why that particular area of the body is also painful, but why did that happen in the first place?

Is is because when you sit at your work desk, it’s slightly more comfortable to lean to the right? Spending hours in your car with one foot moving, and the other resting, causing your hips to sit unevenly. Could that be causing your back spasms? Could it be that you’ve had recurrent ankle sprains on your left foot now you now experience right hip pain?

Your body functions as a WHOLE, not individual parts. That means the problem is functional and involves your entire body, not just one muscle.

There are so many factors that are in play, but I assure you, that one muscle is not the reason you have pain. Something is causing your body to compensate somehow and cause overuse or underuse of muscles, causing further imbalances. That is leading to weakness in muscles, maybe a few tight muscles, and microtears and pain and inflammation.

Skilled doctors are trained to see this; I am trained to see this. We spend years in school – I spent almost 9, not to mention my almost 6 years of clinical experience on top of that.

Plus, doing a thorough history and asking you a lot of questions on your intake form means we can get to what’s causing your problem much much faster.

And you can do this virtually. And you don’t even need to leave the house.

We can work together to find things that you can do at home to relieve some tension or pain at home, so you aren’t leaving your home if you don’t feel safe or spending time commuting. Think of how much time you can save!

There are SO many things that can be done.

Empower Yourself

This is for you only if you are actually ready to get better.

Because once we start, you’ll realize that your health is in YOUR hands and YOU have the power to change it.

Want that?

It’s okay if you don’t – not everybody is ready to change. If you are ready to start feeling better and take your health back into your hands and FIX the problem instead of throwing a band-aid on, hoping that it’ll just go away by itself or that someone else will fix you (because they can’t), then I’m here to help you.

If you would rather be in pain forever and not make a single change to your lifestyle, then I’m not the right fit for you, and that’s okay too.

But, if you’re ready to feel better, book a FREE 15 minute virtual Discovery Call (Ontario residents ONLY) with me and let’s chat. No strings attached and no obligation to you.

Book a free Discovery Call so you can learn about your body (Ontario residents ONLY).

Have questions? Check out the FAQ page and click here to see what services I offer.

Everything you need to know about sleep to help you reduce and manage pain so you can move with ease and confidence

Everything you need to know about sleep to help you reduce and manage pain so you can move with ease and confidence

When you experience pain that keeps you from falling asleep, getting comfortable in bed, staying asleep through the night because it wakes you up, or even feeling like you didn’t sleep when you wake up the next day, it can be frustrating.

Sleep is SO important to our overall health that having interrupted sleep or not enough sleep can affect all areas of your health, not just how tired you feel.

These are some of the things that I do to increase comfort levels:

Lavender:

A lovely and relaxing scent to smell in the evening before bed. You can use it in a diffuser. Be careful if you have pets as some oils may not be suitable.

Sleep schedule:

Plan out a bedtime schedule where you sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Try to be consistent and do this even on weekends.

Getting enough sleep:

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep each night, but in general you should aim for 8-9 hours. Some people need less and some need more. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, make a schedule of everything you do in a day and see what you can shift around or eliminate so you can prioritize your sleep. If you find yourself binge-watching a TV show before bed, maybe try cutting down a bit and sleep earlier 😉

Sleep positions:

Side and back sleeping are the best positions for back pain. Using a pillow under the knees or between the knees can put the back in a neutral position and reduce tension on the joints in your back. Stomach sleeping is generally not recommended because this tends to put the most pressure on the back joints.

Routine:

Having a bedtime routine cues the mind for bed. Doing similar things each night to get you feeling more relaxed can be a great way to fall asleep faster. Avoiding bright lights or blue lights, screens, work, and intense activities can be helpful on top of doing more relaxing things such as reading a book, having herbal tea, meditation, journaling, or any of the other things mentioned in this post.

Relaxing:

You want to aim to feel relaxed. When you are able to relax the mind, you can easily relax the body. They are connected. Sometimes we have a million thoughts in our minds at the end of the day and it can keep us up at night. Writing down your thoughts or doing a guided meditation can be so helpful for this. If you are feeling tension in your body, a yin yoga sequence or stretches, a warm bath/shower or a heating pad may be helpful.

Magnesium:

Many people are deficient in magnesium and it usually shows up as tense, tight, stiff muscles. Either using magnesium topically, in epsom salt baths, or as a supplement may be helpful. Speak to your healthcare practitioner to see which is best for you.

Products that may help:

Water Pillow – I love using a water pillow which you can purchase by clicking on this link here (this is the brand that I use). The water moves with you so you may feel less tension in the neck. This may also help you sleep better without tossing and turning as much, reducing tension in the back as well. It may also be beneficial for upper back pain.

Body Pillow – Great to use while lying down on your side. You can place the bottom part between the knees and then hug the top, keeping your entire spine in neutral position. This is also good for mid or upper back pain. Don’t have a body pillow? Just use 2 – one to hug and one between your knees.

Lavender Essential Oil

Essential Oil Diffuser

Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil or Magnesium Salts

Mattress – while I don’t have brand recommendations, you should choose a firm but comfortable mattress. Replace this every 7-10 years and try to rotate or flip it every few months as needed. I am currently using an Endy mattress.

Want to learn what you can do tonight to wake up tomorrow feeling less pain? Click here to download my free Sleep Guide!

IF THESE TIPS HELPED YOU, LET ME KNOW BY SENDING ME A DM ON INSTAGRAM HERE!

*Read the Disclaimer here

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