The Problem of Pain – Part 3

In this article I address the problem of chronic pain. Before I start though, I would like to acknowledge all of you who suffer from chronic pain, and share my compassion for your pain and your trials. Sadly, I do not have any magic cures to offer you. I asked my Dad, who suffers from arthritis and asthma, what he does to deal with the pain and he answered, in a most sincere way, “You learn to live with it.” That is the essence of pain management. Pain management, like all other health matters, directs us back to square one: mental discipline, nutrition, exercise and health professionals.

In the end each individual will have to find their own way, through experimentation and consultation, to manage their pain. So here it goes … my practical tips for dealing with chronic pain. Good Luck!

  1. Mind over matter. Eliminate stress from your life. This is a must. Learn to calm your mind and be positive. Redirect your attention away from pain by thinking of something else, by staying busy and interested. Over time, as you learn to shift your attention, you will become less governed by pain. Take a class in relaxation.
  2. You are what you eat. Address your dietary habits. Do not underestimate the importance of diet as most chronic diseases are very affected by what you eat, and can either be irritated by inappropriate diet or improved by proper diet. Supplementation. Although still a controversial subject many people laud the benefits and relief from pain they experience from taking supplements. Consult a specialist.
  3. Regular gentle exercise. For movement and chronic pain issues: reduce the range of motion, reduce the intensity, refrain from movements which cause pain or aggravate the problem. Shorten your bouts of exercise or physical activity.

Swimming is great because the body does not bear weight on the joints, gentle conscious stretching is excellent for eliminating stiffness/pain and is recommended as a daily exercise for arthritis, body/mind disciplines such as Qi gong, Tai Chi or gentle Yoga are all around positive. Walk if you can. For osteoarthritis do strength training (with proper technique) and preserve your joints by honouring your limits. Do not overdo it. The “no pain, no gain” motto is not for you. Although it is vexing (to put it mildly) to lose some of our past freedoms let us not forget to enjoy the beauty and pleasure life has to offer.

  1. Attention to medication. A change in prescription dosage, type or brand may produce very surprising results. Consult your doctor. Regular exercise can help reduce medication dosages. For other options consult a specialist in alternative medicine.

I have it from a reliable source that “seek and ye shall find.” If I can be of help in any way please contact me. Next issue: Posture! Wishing you all a colourful and blue-skied autumn. Stay open. Stay connected to love of life and love of all that is precious. (I was born in the 60’s!) J

NB. I am offering a variety of exercise classes in Morin Heights and St. Sauveur starting the week of September 18 th . Also for trainers and teachers, I am offering a Can Fit Pro OAS Certification, end of September and a workshop on modifying exercise for older adults in October. Contact me if you are interested. Also, feel free to leave a comment about any of my articles.

About The Author


Lisa McLellan founded Age Smart Fitness in 2006. Age Smart Fitness is dedicated to the health, fitness and mental well-being of people age 40 and over.



  • Diana Pollard

    Reply Reply July 3, 2011

    I read your messages with interest but in this case, I don’t completely agree when you say –

    Regular gentle exercise. For movement and chronic pain issues: reduce the range of motion, reduce the intensity, refrain from movements which cause pain or aggravate the problem. Shorten your bouts of exercise or physical activity.

    I have studied older adults in particular and we learn that by reducing their range of motion this is when they can begin to bend forward and start shuffling. For sure high impact activities are not an option and diet and proper stretching are a huge factor but they must also maintain strength and correct ROM to maintain their AODL? So, light weights and strengthen the supporting muscles groups (to form a better shock absorber) plus effective stretches?



    • Lisa McLellan

      Reply Reply July 21, 2011

      Thank you for your email. And I agree with you with regards to the reality of the more mild, generalised pain of chronic disease. I only recommend reducing the range of motion when the pain is intolerable in a specific place like the shoulder, knee or lower back or, causes pain after exercising. You can reduce the ROM ( range of motion) in one shoulder joint for example without reducing the range of motion in the spine or other shoulder joint. Also, in my mind, ROM always includes a balance between stretching and strengthening. Good posture is the result of strengthening muscles which are too weak and stretching muscles which are too tight. So yes, I agree with you. Absolutely.

      Sometimes though the pain is such that less is actually more because no one likes to feel pain. Too much pain discourages one from wanting to continue to move. But moving is necessary to help heal the pain and therefore incremental exercises to first relieve and then to strengthen and the to increase functional ability. Also some types of injuries require rest or non movement for healing as well as either strengthening a certain set of muscles or stretching a certain set of muscles. Often it is the physiotherapist which will determine these specific exercises.

      I am glad you brought this point up so that I can write more clearly in the future on this subject.

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