sleep

Chronic Pain: What We Know And How To Manage It!

Chronic Pain

It’s important to note that all pain is real! Chronic pain is not “all in your head.” It is pain that persists beyond the acute stage (greater than two months). It often occurs independent of actual tissue damage, meaning that there is no damage to muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, etc that is causing the pain.

Chronic pain involves changes that occur within the brain in response to pain that lasts for long periods of time. Areas in the brain that are not associated with perceiving pain begin to perceive signals as pain – meaning that activities that should not cause pain are now painful! This can significantly affect the quality of one’s life.

Chronic pain affects almost 1 in 3 people worldwide! The cost in the US is about $600 billion annually for medical treatment, lost wages, and lost work time. Chronic pain is the most common reason to seek treatment and the most common reason for disability and addiction. The cost of treatment for chronic pain in the US is even greater than those for cancer, heart disease, dementia, and diabetes care.

Currently, chronic pain is not managed well by healthcare providers. A common treatment is the use of opioids. Opioids (e.g. codeine, morphine, hydrocodone (Norco), oxycodone, fentanyl) are meant for short term management of acute pain. They are not meant for long term management of chronic pain. Medication alone cannot treat chronic pain. When other treatments are added in addition to medication, outcomes are shown to be better. Some people on long term opioid treatment actually experience the side effect of hyperalgesia (or hypersensitivity) which increases pain!

How to Manage

There are several other ways to manage chronic pain in addition to medication.

Exercise – start with light, painfree activities and increase as you are able

Reduce stress as stress causes increased inflammation which can lead to increased pain

Learn more about your condition – learn how others manage to control their pain and maintain their function

Keep up with normal activities as much as possible

Improve your overall health

Avoid bed rest and inactivity – Bed rest will not improve your pain and may make it worse, as it leads to other problems such as weakness, weight gain, and poor circulation.

Consume an anti-inflammatory diet
– Emphasizes plant-based foods and anti-inflammatory spices: turmeric, ginger
– Nutrient deficiency is common in chronic pain and can be worsened by long term use of analgesics (common deficiencies include vitamin D and magnesium)
– Make sure you have the correct intake of omega 3 fatty acids

Make sure you are hydrated
– Dehydration can amplify chronic pain symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, joint stiffness, and fatigue
– Proper hydration is key in managing pain and improving our body’s function
– Caffeine intake to address loss of sleep, fatigue, and headaches can contribute to dehydration
– The recommendation for appropriate amount of water varies but 64 oz is a great place to start

Make sure you are getting enough sleep
– Position modification
– Stretching before bed
– See if there are other factors other than pain that are contributing to loss of sleep
– Caffeine intake
– Stimulants such as light or noise
– Use of cell phones or other electronics prior to bed

Physical therapy or occupational therapy to increase strength, increase mobility, and improve function as well as to address pain

Be your own advocate when seeking treatment. Only you know what you are feeling and how it affects you. Work to find the treatment that is best for you!

This blog was specially written by our friend and guest writer Rachel Zimmerman, DPT.

Rachel is clinic director at ATI Physical Therapy in Green Bay, WI. You can find out more about her clinic or find a location near you at ATIpt.com!

5-Minute Hacks that Can Change Your Life!

Let’s say you sleep 9 hours a night and work 8 hours a day – that doesn’t seem like you have much time left huh? Only 7 hours in fact, and for most of us we are taking kids to school or sports, cooking food, cleaning, etc to boot!

But let’s break this down into usable units…you have EIGHTY-FOUR 5-minute chunks left of your day. Right now we’re going to ask you to use only SIX of them to better your health and quality of life. Think you are up to the challenge?

1. Listen to Your Favorite Song

Music activates just about every area of that brain that has been mapped so far. If you are looking to calm down, a slow-tempo song that soothes you will help the most. Make sure it’s also in a calm environment where you can hear and focus on the music, maybe put some headphones on and dim the lights. Looking for a mid-day pick me up? Get in the car and crank up the volume on that up-tempo song that makes you want to sing your heart out!

2. Declutter One Small Area

Being organized helps save time in all areas of your life…not searching for those lost keys, documents…appointment reminders! Knowing things are organized also improves your mental focus and reduces stress.

Have 5 more minutes? Take a look at your calendar and organize a busy day. Planning ahead can make sure you don’t miss your child’s basketball game…or your favorite workout!

3. Call a Friend or Loved One

Social connection reduces the incidence of depression, high blood pressure, and all-cause mortality. The bad news? Social media and text messaging don’t count for as much.

Now we all have that person who we know will NEVER let us off the phone in 5 minutes, save that conversation until you are ready to settle in or maybe schedule a date to meet out for coffee. Call someone you know will understand that you have only 5 minutes and just want to connect for a moment. Watch your mood lift as you hang up the phone!

4. Go to Bed 5 Minutes Earlier

Not tired yet? Read, meditate, pray, or try some light yoga to bring your body into a peaceful state for sleep. Turn off the phone and TV! Getting 7-9 hours of sleep helps prevent heart disease, inflammation (i.e. during recovery from your workouts!), obesity, depression, and stress. Try setting your alarm to actually remind you that it’s time to go to bed!

5. FLOSS!

It is never too late! Your gums may bleed for a couple days but that will subside as your gums heal. Not flossing/cleaning the gunk out between your teeth will cause plaque build-up which can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If that isn’t enough, flossing can drastically reduce bad breath…a win-win for everyone!

6. 5-Minute Workout

For starters, just making the decision to work out even for only 5-minutes will ignite the motivation for more! Start with 5-minutes, whether it be stretching, a quick jog, or holding a few planks. When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing.

Here is a simple 5-minute workout: Choose a higher intensity move, like speed squats, and run through it in Tabata format. 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest, 8 rounds. 1-minute rest or cool down/stretch. BAM! 5-minute workout that will boost your energy, and make you feel accomplished.

Seriously everyone, I just read this entire article aloud. It took me THREE MINUTES!

So Here’s #7 – Read This Blog Post Every Day!

Until you know it by heart anyway, and you have fully integrated these 5-minute fixes into your life.

Pancakes, Pie, Naps?? Yes Please!

This week we are celebrating anything and everything folks!! And we’ve got some fantastic recipes to help you celebrate some obscure holidays.

National Nap Day!

Let’s kick this week off with a very happy National Nap Day! Sleep plays a role in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels, control body weight, and enhance memory. Sleep helps to reduce inflammation in the body.

The Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per day for ideal health. Improve your sleep with the same bedtime/wake time, limiting blue light exposure (they make glasses for this now!), exercising regularly, and limiting caffeine and heavy meals in the evening.

National Pancake Day!

Love pancakes but think they are off limits? Maybe it’s time to try a few different options that may suit your goals! Have you tried Kodiak Cakes? They contain ingredients you can feel pretty good about including 21g of protein per serving when made with a milk and egg.

Or, try one of the many recipes “out there” that include oats, cottage cheese, banana, and eggs like this OR go super simple with a 3 ingredient pancake: ½ C cottage cheese, ½ c. rolled oats, and 3 eggs. Blend in a blender and cook!

National Cruciferous Day?

Alright this one isn’t real – yet! But we think it should be!

Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to have cancer-fighting attributes and contain many beneficial properties. Cauliflower has come back into fashion with all sorts of new ways to prepare it – cauliflower crusts anyone?

If you haven’t jumped onto the cruciferous wave yet, give this Cauliflower Hash recipe a whirl. It cooks up fasts and you’ll struggle not to eat the whole thing!

Chop a head of cauliflower and an onion and sauté until starting to brown. Toss in paprika, salt, pepper, and water and cook briefly until the cauliflower is tender. Add minced garlic and lemon juice and enjoy!

Happy Pi Day!

This one is for real though! (3/14…3.14, get it?)

Let’s talk PIE…better yet, PIE for dinner, not dessert! Have you tried Spaghetti Squash Pie? Think, spaghetti squash, zucchini, fresh basil and marinara all wrapped up in one dinner!

Alright, alright that one isn’t dessert though…If you need a little sweet, here’s an Apple Pie Shake recipe!

Éirinn go Brách!

Now surely you have heard of St. Patrick’s Day, but we’ve got a special smoothie to try in honor of the holiday! Skip the popular green shake that packs 63 GRAM OF SUGAR!

Green smoothies are commonly created by adding spinach to smoothies. Spinach is nutritious, but essentially tasteless in smoothies so it’s a great addition for a vitamin and mineral boost!

Try this St Patty’s Day Smoothie Treat: Blend 1 frozen banana, 1 cup spinach, ¼-1/2 Tbsp. of cocoa powder, ½-1 scoop vanilla protein powder, cacao nibs, and unsweetened almond milk to taste. Greener? Add some matcha powder! Need more healthy fats? Add some flax or hemp seeds!

Special Mention:

Happy 10 Years to Ellipse Fitness St. Louis!

It’s time to throw a party! Need to bring a dish to pass? Try a Chinese chicken salad with cabbage, lettuce, fresh herbs, and chicken. Check out this great recipe here! (you can swap iceberg lettuce for romaine for a few more nutrients and add as much cabbage as you see fit)

AND try an old Ellipse Fitness Favorite: Party Pepper Salad filled with sweet peppers and beans.

Do These 3 Things to Lose 2 Pounds This Week!

Are you tired of starting a diet only to start it over again and miss out on all the results you were expecting or promised?

SO ARE WE!

Let’s keep this simple.

1. PFW – Fat loss happens when we pay attention to what goes in our mouths. Focus on Protein, Fiber, and Water.

 • Stop focusing on what to eliminate and focus on eating more proteins like chicken, eggs, and fish.
 • Forget the trendy headliner diet and enjoy the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. The more fibrous the food, the more it satisfies.
 • Drinking just 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water will do more than just hydrate. Drinking this, relatively small, amount of water will curb an appetite and ensure the mind doesn’t get thirst confused with hunger. We recommend drinking your bodyweight in ounces of water. Go the extra mile!

2. Move MORE!

 • Walking at a leisure pace for 30 minutes 3-4 times each week can significantly decrease the stress hormone cortisol and allow the body to focus on other functions besides stress management. Fat loss is one of those functions.
 • Already walking and not seeing results? Check that it is a true leisure walk. The kind of walk that is not measured on a tracking device and occurs at a speed that would allow you to hold a cup of coffee or tea in your hand. Slow down a little. Something tells us that your life is moving fast enough on its own.
 • Truly leisure walking and working out and STILL NOT SEEING RESULTS?? Go back to tip number 1 for a seven day stretch.

3. Get some ZZZZzzzzz’s

 • No, we are not suggesting a crazy supplement or product called ZZZZzzzzz’s. We are suggesting that quality sleep can allow your mind and body to fully recover from the day.
 • This should NOT be underestimated! This will set all your systems and faculties up for success. Start each day rested and ready for results.

Our resolve will be challenged every step of the way!

Efforts to consume more PFW may be compromised or sabotaged by quick-fix shakes that offer little more than flavor and expense. Moving more does not entail moving all the time to continue eating, sabotaging, and compromising one’s self to avoid change. Avoiding change nutritionally is the equivalent to avoiding change physically!

Know this: We promised simple. That doesn’t necessarily mean EASY! It is uncomfortable outside of the comfort zone. Declaring war means preparing to battle, holding your ground, and occasionally…fighting back!

If you’re excited about the simplicity of all this, but need a little extra guidance and motivation then let us help! It is literally what we live for!

Our 21-Day Ellipse Fitness Training Camp will give you all the tools you need to get on your way to making staggering change that can last you a lifetime.

21 days of unlimited training sessions PLUS one small group personal training session per week!

Nutrition Guidance, Ellipse Cookbook, Simple Meal Plan and Shopping List!

Before/After Weight, Pictures, Tape Measurements and Body Composition to give you a clear picture of your progress and results!

Welcoming, fantastically supportive group atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable coaching staff, accountability, motivation, and MORE!

5 Fitness Essentials from Ellipse Fitness

Whether you have been at Ellipse for some time or are newer to the fitness world, there are a few things you’ll want to do your homework on.

Get a good water bottle.

Find something that will encourage you to stay plenty hydrated and is convenient, keep in mind that if it is a burden to you – you will drink less. You can even find double-insulated bottles that are easy to fill, clean, and keep everything cool for up to 24 hours!

Get the right shoes!

This is a big one! Sometimes when our ankles, knees, etc bother us, it could very well be related to the shoes we wear. Make sure you do your homework on the best shoe for you. Many appreciate the feel of barefoot shoes, some feet need support for over pronation, supination, etc.
Next, you’ve got to acknowledge when those things are worn out! Be sure to replace your shoes regularly enough. The average running shoe needs to be replaced about every 400 miles for instance…watch the wear on the bottom and sides. Don’t wait until you are in pain. Also, be aware that it’s a myth that shoes need to be broken in!

Recovery

Set yourself up to recover properly with enough water, sleep, and movement! This last one can often be neglected. We finish a workout, give ourselves a job well done and then proceed to sit around for the rest of the day, but this will only lead to more soreness!
Your movements may include recovery tools such as a foam roller, tennis or lacrosse ball, or even a TENS unit (electric pulse massager). Try not to only use the foam rollers at the gym. It’s a great investment to use at home as well, and they are pretty cheap. Tennis balls can help with those hard to reach areas and so can specialty rollers, like a Rollga, can help with different pressure points. Ask your trainer for the best recovery tool/process for you!

Back to your feet again…Socks!

It’s not something we usually invest in as much as we may want to, but a good pair of socks can go a long way to keeping your feet healthy! Too small of a sock and your ankle can rub on the back of your shoe. Too big of a sock and you can cause blistering.
Try some of our favorite brands like Darn Tough (yes, they make a sport line AND they have a LIFE-TIME guarantee! No BS), Smart Wool, and/or socks made of a sweat wicking material.

Gloves!

Still have that same set of boxing gloves from 3 years ago? It may be time to purchase a new pair! When the padding wears down in your boxing gloves, your hands can begin to ache. Just like your shoes, you should replace your gloves when they start wearing unevenly.

*Side note: Lifting Gloves – Although your grip can be impacted, some people don’t appreciate the calluses that can occur from regular strength training due to occupation or personal preference. For those situations, find a proper fitted lifting glove and keep packed in your gym bag with your boxing gloves, water bottle, sweat towel, and shoes!

What fitness equipment can YOU not live without?? Leave us a comment with your favorites and why!

Concerned with the aesthetic side-effects of working out? Well, a few months ago we went over the differences between deodorant and antiperspirant. Find a deodorant that helps neutralize your underarm bacteria. Each body responds to ingredients differently. What works for your friend may not work for you! You may need to experiment with a few to find the right one for you. At the gym, as a courtesy to others (especially with asthma), avoid heavy body sprays and perfumes/colognes. Have to run to an appointment after a workout? Keep baby wipes, or your favorite microfiber washcloth, in your gym back for a last minute freshen up.

The Importance of Sleep!!!

Sleep is a necessity of life and critical in restoring our mind and body!

Sleep…for athletic performance:

As we train hard, we break down muscle tissue and weaken our bodies.  During sleep, the cardiovascular and muscular systems rebuild, resulting in a higher level of performance.

Sleep…for hormone production:

During deep sleep, the growth hormone, melatonin, is produced.  This hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into cells, aids the healing of tissues, inhibits tumors from growing, prevents viral infections, stimulates the immune system, increases antibodies in saliva and enhances the quality of sleep.

Sleep…for memory consolidation:

While your body is sleeping, your brain is busy processing your day, filing information, making connections between events, storing memories and connecting feelings.  Sleep is critical for your memory.

Sleep…for weight loss:

Good news!!!   Sleep also helps with weight loss by balancing the production of the hormones ghrelin and leptin that regulate appetite.

Sleep…for celluar repair:

Sleep heels by allowing your cells to produce more protein, allowing them to repair damage to your body caused by stress, ultraviolet rays, and accumulated toxins as well as healing the body of colds and headaches.

Take the time to workout, and take the time to sleep.  It’s worth the effort, and best of all, it’s free!

 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Most adults need 3 hours of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in order to avoid sleep deprivation and to function normally.   Add to that another 3 to 4 hours to reach the REM state of sleep after first lying down, and you have a total need of 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night, on average.

Keep in mind that quantity of sleep doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality.  You may sleep for many hours, but if your sleep isn’t deep enough you may not be reaching the REM cycle, or if your sleep cycle is disturbed, you may still feel sleep deprived in the morning.

How to ensure quality sleep:

  1. Exercise regularly.  Most people who exercise regularly find they sleep better at night due to physical exertion, and lower stress and anxiety levels.
  2.  Limit your alcohol consumption late in the evening.  Alcohol can disrupt your sleep and shorten your REM cycle.  It is recommended that you avoid alcohol for 3 hours prior to bed in order to allow adequate time for processing.
  3. Limit your caffeine consumption before bedtime. Caffeine increases the production of adrenaline and blocks the body’s chemicals that induce sleep. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to 12 hours, and can cause insomnia in some individuals.
  4. Develop regular sleep patterns.  Sleeping in on the weekends may seem like a great way to catch up on your sleep, however, it can throw off your sleep-wake cycle.  It’s best to go to bed and wake up at relatively the same time every day, even on weekends.
  5. Keep your bedroom dark.  Light interferes with your sleep mechanism.  This includes the light from a TV.
  6. Limit your food intake within 3-4 hours of sleep to allow time for digestion.  Your digestive system needs rest too!
  7. Like to workout before bed?  Keep in mind that exercising causes a rise in body temperature and cooler body temperatures help you sleep better.  For some people, exercising within 3 hours of bedtime may delay the onset of sleep.
  8. Don’t take problems to bed with you. Write down your concerns and list of things to do before bed.  You’ll be able to deal with them best the next morning after a good night sleep!