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Gooding’s Guide to Fitness - Exercise as Pain Management
Sharon Standish, defined is a long-time Marysville resident, inspirational preschool teacher, successful small business owner, loving wife and mother, children’s author, and sufferer of both Parkinson’s disease and Dystonia.
Sharon’s courageous battle with her diseases requires faith, hope, the support of friends and family, and requires regular exercise to manage her pain. Her positive attitude is so great that she is turning her condition into a source of strength for herself and others; this month, she is planning a Walk-a-thon to raise awareness for Dystonia, a disease not many people have heard of.
Dystonia affects adults and children of all backgrounds, and is the third most common movement disorder following tremor and Parkinson’s disease. Dystonia causes severe muscle spasms in the neck, arms, legs, face and vocal cords.
Sharon’s diseases are debilitating painful. Her muscles spasm and cramp so extremely that when she has an upper body spasm “it feels as if her shoulder may dislocate”. To combat these episodes, Sharon exercises regularly to keep her muscles limber and strong, and to improve her coordination and balance. She also stretches on a regular basis to lengthen her muscles. Sharon has learned that exercise is essential to making each day more enjoyable and her pain more manageable.
For those who experience chronic pain, there are four good reasons to exercise.
First, exercising releases endorphins which a person’s body produces naturally during exercise. These endorphins are the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. Endorphins create general feelings of well-being and block the perception of pain.
Second, exercising improves the ease in which we fall and stay asleep. For those who cope with chronic pain, a sleepless night may be more common than desired.
Third, regular exercise releases tension and stress, which may aid in controlling pain, or at least help a person cope with it.
Last, targeted exercise can strengthen muscles around the injury or area of discomfort, taking pressure off the site. Be cautious when deciding to exercise, as incorrect exercise can exacerbate pain, or reinjure a site. People who live with chronic pain should consult a doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer about an effective and safe exercise program.
For those of you who struggle against pain, I urge you to try exercising as a form of pain management. Start slowly, and listen to your body for cues that you are overexerting yourself, or for signs that you could increase the intensity.
To support those living with chronic pain and debilitating diseases, there is a wealth of opportunities to volunteer, to learn or to help raise awareness. Sharon Standish’s goal is to bring positive meaning to her diseases. On Saturday, March 21 from 8:15-11a.m. at M-PHS stadium, she is hosting a Walk-a-Thon to raise money for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation.
The DMRF’s Mission is to advance research for more effective treatments and ultimately a cure, to promote awareness and education and to support the needs and well-being of affected individuals and families.
Please join her and others to reach out and do something to help those living with chronic pain and serious diseases. For more information, please visit Sharon’s website: http:firstname.lastname@example.org/walkathon.html.
As members of this community, I urge you to support this event by attending the Walk-a-thon. It’ll be a chance to multi-task: meet some wonderful people in our community, support a worthwhile cause, and get some exercise. Rain or shine, I hope to see you there.
Angie Gooding is an educator and a personal trainer certified through ACE (American Council on Exercise) and owner of Inspire Fitness & Training. She lives locally, and trains clients in a private location in Marysville. She can be reached at AngieGooding@comcast.net or www.inspirefitnessandtraining.com.