Life in Balance

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Quirky Pain Relief Tricks That Work

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Source: Prevention Magazine

Research reveals some quirky but effective natural ways to reduce aches without popping a pill.

Visit Van Gogh

Gazing at works by your favorite painter may help ease pain, say researchers at Italy’s University of Bari. They delivered stinging sensations from lasers to the skin of 12 healthy subjects who were looking at paintings they had previously rated as beautiful, neutral, or ugly. Reported pain was about one-third less intense among subjects who gazed at art they found pleasing; conversely, the pain was more intense when they saw pieces they didn’t like.

Turn up the volume

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, chances are, your doc advised you to keep moving to improve your mobility. But how can you do that when moving is so painful? The key may be music. In a small study at Glasgow University in Scotland, researchers found that women with rheumatoid arthritis could walk 30% farther when they listened to music of their choice than when they walked in silence. “The music didn’t make their pain disappear,” says lead researcher Paul MacIntyre, MD. “It took their mind off it, so they could walk farther without needing to stop.”

Meditate a little every day

Wind down before bed with a few minutes of calm. People who meditate regularly have thicker areas of the cortex, a part of the brain that affects pain sensitivity, than those who don’t, finds Canadian research. A few days of practice may be enough to boost pain tolerance.

Take deep, slow breaths

Are you a wimp about flu shots? Before your next skin prick, start using your yoga breaths. Women whose breathing rates slowed by half reported significantly less discomfort during a pain-inducing experiment. Measured breathing helps deactivate your body’s fight-or-flight response to pain. It can also be a good distraction—something women who’ve given birth know well!

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