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Feeling Good Does Not Mean Living ‘Pain Free’

With less than three months left in the year, have you taken an accounting yet of 2017? Is it everything you thought it would be?

I can honestly say that some great things have happened in 2017. Brenda Smith has joined our team to expand our massage services; physical therapist extraordinaire Gina Hann (formerly Gina DeCaro) has completed her first full year with us; and just last month we participated in our first Clarendon Day Festival, and we had a blast.

But my big revelation for 2017 has been a recent one, fueled largely by numerous conversations with patients, athletes and even some of my friends.

I can no longer subscribe to the concept of being “pain free.”

This is not meant to depress anyone, but rather to enlighten.  I think “pain free” is meant to conjure up a euphoric state of wellness and perfect being.  But when I talk to my most active and athletic population, anyone over age 25 laughs at the concept of being “pain free.”  In fact, the harder they train, and the harder they compete, the less they actually feel “good” at all.

“Feeling good” for the athlete is more of a mental state that accompanies the satisfaction of competing hard, doing their best, and accomplishing personal goals.  Feeling “sore” or even a little banged up, is often worn as a badge for their sacrifices and efforts.

Conversely, I don’t know if I’ve ever met an inactive person who felt “good” most of the time.

So if it is common to notice discomfort at both ends of the “inactivity/activity continuum,” then where is this happy space where the blissful “pain-free zone” exists?

This calls for us to adopt a new mindset and a new set of rules.  In talking with athletes and high performers, the concept of “feeling good” is most achievable when we follow these rules:

  1. Develop a morning routine. People who have a routine with which they start the day, feel better as the day goes on.  Doing morning yoga, going for a morning walk, enjoying a “Bulletproof Coffee,” are all examples of a morning routine.
  2. Develop reliable habits. Having a consistent exercise program, carrying a bottle of water to work, and finishing it each day, taking multivitamins every morning, are all examples of habits that have been shown to improve mood, energy, and a sense of well-being.
  3. Enjoy the process. Stop concerning yourself with one day achieving the blissful state of being “pain free,” and instead recognize that it is the journey of doing more of the right things and fewer of the wrong things that ultimately gives us the benefits we are looking for.

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