Are you feeling your age this week? Or is your body telling you you’ve spent too much time behind the wheel or in front of the computer? You know the aches and pains I’m talking about. What is the real cause of them and what can you do about them?
According to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda, there are two basic reasons for chronic muscle pain:
- Aggravation of the Vata (air) dosha caused by excess stress and movement, exposure to cold and dryness, and muscle weakness due to overuse of a muscle group or a predisposed muscle weakness. Viral infections, the common cold, a flu or a bacterial infection can initiate the stress (often inflammation) that triggers a painful episode. Vata pain tends to move around the body and is more prevalent in the elderly since the latter years represent the Vata stage of life.
- A build-up of ama (the toxic by-product of improper digestion). Ama can circulate throughout the body but tends to
collect in areas of poor circulation, tense muscles or weak or previously injured muscle groups. It is not uncommon for pain to arise in parts of the body that were injured earlier in life, even if years have gone by without any symptoms. Cold and damp foods tend to contribute to ama and should be avoided or offset to prevent muscle pain and cramping.
Depending upon the type of muscle pain, there are several things you can do to minimize and prevent chronic muscle pain. Try these:
- Ensure you have one to two bowel movements each day. Proper elimination helps reduce ama in the body and demonstrates the proper flow of Vata in the system. If you are having challenges with elimination, ask your practitioner about using Triphala, an Ayurvedic formula for regulating elimination and tonifying the bowel.
- Follow proper sleep cycles. Make sure you are in bed and sleeping during the 10:00 pm to 2:00 am window when the body does the bulk of its detoxification work. To assist in regulating your sleep and to reduce ama, refrain from day-time sleep unless you are sick.
- Manage your exercise routine. Walking or swimming at least 30 minutes daily will improve general circulation and detoxification of muscle tissues. Daily stretching or yoga will help prevent muscle strain and relieve stress. Don’t overdo exercise, however. Marathons, back-to-back zumba classes and heavy weights are not recommended. Moderation is the key. And be particularly careful with muscles or joints you use regularly. Wearing a brace or other support allows muscles to relax and heal.
- Give yourself a daily self-massage with warm Mahanaranyan oil. The heated oil warms the muscles to promote circulation, movement of toxins, muscle flexibility and reduced Vata energy throughout the body.
- Avoid ama-producing foods like sugar and processed foods, fried foods, excess meat and seafood, caffeine and chocolate. Potatoes and lemon juice are supportive, as are celery seeds and bitter gourd if you can find them.
- Schedule a Detox or Pancha Karma. Depending on the extent and duration of the pain, an Ayurvedic cleanse or an intense Ayurvedic Pancha Karma can be life-changing. Pancha Karma is the process of using a specialized diet, oleation and fomentation to move toxins into the digestive tract where they can be removed through induced vomiting, purgation or enemas. In lieu of a full Pancha Karma, detoxifying Abhyanga massages can help move toxins and support the circulatory system on a one-time or regular basis. Contact Positively Ayurvedic for more information on this and other healing treatments.
- Modifying expectations and streamlining your schedule. In Ayurveda, it is understood that all physical conditions are preceded by mental and emotional states. If you are over-scheduling yourself and taxing your adrenal system, your body will tense and your neurotransmitters and hormones tend to go out of balance, creating an endless stress loop. Muscle pain is often the body’s way of telling us that we need to take some time to take care of ourselves so we’re there for everyone else in the long run.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have an acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or email Karen Callahan at firstname.lastname@example.org.