black_guy_neck_pain_stretch.jpgEveryone, and I mean EVERYONE, has some kind of ache or pain that pops up here and there. But when those pains become constant, it's time to figure out if you're suffering unnecessarily. Banish "I guess I'm just getting old" from your vocabulary. Give a few lifestyle changes a shot!
 
Anti-inflammatory diet
A quick snapshot of low grade inflammation at work is when you notice that your joints are more painful when you're under stress or haven't slept well - two things that can raise inflammatory levels in the body.  This naturally happens from time to time, but if your baseline inflammatory levels are pretty low, you won't find it flaring up pain nearly as much. One way to do this is through what's known as a "paleo" dietary regimen. Contrary to popular belief, this is a very plant heavy diet (if you're doing it right) that eliminates or reduces commonly inflammatory foods like sugar and dairy products. A wonderful way to try this out is by doing a Whole 30, a month long paleo regimen, and see how you feel at the end. If it doesn't help, cookies and cheese will still be there for you. But in my experience, the vast majority of people who try this walk away feeling better, lighter, more energetic and with much less chronic joint pain and tension. 
 
Trigger point therapy
Trigger points are tight fibers and knots in your muscles that are constantly "fired up" even when you're not moving them. Think of your tight, concrete-like shoulders after a day of sitting at the computer, or dealing with a stressful job. Trigger point therapy is when those knots are stimulated by massage or needling to cause them to release (usually with a satisfying "twitch" response). Nothing has worked for me like trigger point therapy to break the pattern of a constant tight back, and it has made a pivotal difference to hundreds of our patients suffering from back pain, spasms, sciatica and more. Generally there will be some soreness afterwards, like a workout. But after a few sessions, the muscles gradually start to stop "holding" tension in the same painful patterns. 
 
Move! 
Achey hips from sitting at the computer? "Throwing out" your back a few times a year? You may need to strengthen rather than relax. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most currently lauded way to accomplish strengthening and metabolic boosting (aka weight loss) in the least amount of time. Routines involve several different types of vigorous exercises targeting multiple muscle groups for short, timed bursts with brief rests in between.  HIIT routines are meant to be short and intense, not done more than a few times a week, AND can be done at home. The website Fitness Blender has many free HIIT workouts to get you started, no fancy equipment required. Start with a simple ten minute routine, gradually challenge yourself more from week to week, and notice if you're still hurting like you were when you were more sedentary. 
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