Improving your overall health and taking care of your body can help prevent pain by reducing your risk for injury, strain, and overuse. Here are five things you can do now to prevent acute and chronic pain in the future.
Aerobic exercise and weight resistance training are both essential tools in maintaining a strong, flexible, and fit body, and consequently, a body less likely to experience injury. Work on strengthening your muscles around trouble spots like the knees and back to prevent strains or pulls. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is especially important because being overweight or obese can be a significant risk factor for several types of pain and injury, not to mention a host of other health problems.
2. Protect Your Joints
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, a disease characterized by the inflammation and degeneration of the cartilage that protects the bones in the joints. Osteoarthritis typically occurs later in life, after the age of 40, but it can be a result of prior injury or overuse. While arthritis may not be totally avoidable, it is possible to reduce your risk by protecting your joints as much as possible, particularly weight-bearing joints like the knees. Maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting excess pressure on the knee joints, and exercise regularly to strengthen muscles around the joints and reduce the risk of injury. If possible, engage in high-impact sports—such as long-distance running, soccer, and tennis—only in moderation.
3. Improve Your Posture
Standing up straight can help you relieve tension in several key muscle areas and joints, including the back, neck, legs, hips and knees. Slouching may seem easier on your body, but it is actually putting unnecessary strain on the muscles in our back, as well as your lower body. Make it a point to practice good posture, whether you are standing in line at the grocery store or sitting at your desk at work.
4. Practice Safety
At its simplest, preventing pain is about avoiding injury. Wear safety gear when appropriate, and practice common sense when engaging in any physical activity, whether it is moving boxes or biking.
5. Listen to Your Body
Knowing the limits of your body is important, particularly when engaging in strenuous physical activities or exercise. Most injuries, sprains, and strains are products of our own action, like improper lifting or overzealous exercise. While it’s fine to challenge yourself, don’t push your body past its limits and risk serious and ongoing pain.