Pain! What Pain?

Rajat Chauhan
Published: 30, Apr 2013

Rajat is a militant advocate of increased physical activity and exercises for all. He has been running for last 28 years and in his spare time is a doctor specializing in Medical-Osteopathy, Musculo-Skeletal Medicine (London College of Osteopathic Medicine) and Sports-Exercise Medicine (Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham). He also is the Founder & Race Director of La Ultra - The High, the world's cruelest & highest ultra marathon - 222 km in Leh. He loves to turn conventional wisdom on its head, esp. in sickness industry, which some people also know as Healthcare industry. But all of what he says or suggests is backed up with scientific evidence. His special interest is in helping all, sedentary to sportspeople, to perform at their optimum levels, whether it be dealing with a disease, pain (back, neck, knee, shoulder etc) or in sports (Golf, Tennis, Running, Football, Swimming etc). Since there is no one answer for all, he has specialized in multi-modality approach ranging from posture correction, muscle balance, physical activity, floor and machine based exercises, acupuncture / dry needling, osteopathic medicine, deep tissue massage, myo-fascial release, mesotherapy, bit of psychotherapy etc. He was elect-Chairperson for World Congress of Science and Medicine in Cricket, that was held just before the 2011 Cricket World Cup in the sub-continent, but decided to quit. He previously headed a London centre of Kieser Training, a Swiss-German chain of rehabilitation centres. He moved to India in 2006 to set-up a Sports & Exercise Medicine department at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore. In mid 2008 he started his own venture called Back 2 Fitness, a musculo-skeletal (aches and pain rehab) medicine and sports & exercise medicine rehabilitation centre, which is now based in Delhi NCR. In 2009, along with a running buddy, he set-up Runners High in Bangalore, a running institute with the intention of training people how to run properly without getting hurt. He is also a columnist with Mint newspaper for over 4 years, where his column is called Treadmill on Business of Life page.

Apologies for missing out my blog last week. As it has already become clear to you, running is my life and getting you to move just that little bit extra is my passion. The twin bombing at the Boston marathon just numbed me. It was too personal. I didn't know how to react, I still don't know. A marathon is unlike any other sporting event. I know, you would rather call cricket a sport. All fans of marathon or ultra marathon are those who actually run them. Spectators are there to cheer their friends and family, more than for the pure love for running, whereas in all other sports, fans are sitting on the sidelines, clapping away to their heart's content.

Life is like a marathon, actually more like an ultra-marathon, with no idea about how long and how tough it can be. If you are passionate about life and want to truly live it, you can't be a mere spectator. You've just got to be in the thick of things. Like a marathon or an ultra-marathon, life has a tendency to throw all kinds of stuff at you, pain being one. In my opinion, there is an option, but it’s not to stop. The option you have is to carry on with a smile or a grimace, which to others look like a smile. No matter what, no one else is going to fight your battle or take your pain.

The pain you suffer is your problem. Harsh, very harsh, but true. Once you realize that, only then will changes take place in the right direction. Since it’s your problem, you need to take a more proactive role in treating pain and managing it. At times, pain is there to stay. But it's entirely up to you if you have the desire to suffer as well. Below is an example of die-hard lady who decided not to suffer, even though she had enough pain thrown at her.


(Click on the picture above to watch the video)

Couple of days ago, I had the privilege of joining a 70-year-old lady while she was out on her daily 6-km walk. She does all her household chores herself and then goes for her walk. Both of her knees got deformed 24 years ago, courtesy severe osteoarthritis. Over the years, she has repeatedly been advised surgery. Of course she has pain, but she decided not to let it affect her life in any way. Right or not, it was her decision to not go for the surgery. She also decided that she would not stop moving. I found it phenomenal.

As shown in the video above, when she walks, she might rock from one side to another like a boat in rough waters in the ocean, but she is very content going on about her life. Besides repeatedly advising surgery, the good doctors also advised her to stop going for morning walks. More than the severe knee pains, being told to stop walking sounded like a death sentence to her. That was the one thing that she really loved in her life. She had dedicated her life to taking care of others around her. When she walked, she had an opportunity to unwind completely. That was her time. She paid no heed to the expert advice. She gradually started working on it, walking a minute at a time. Today, her two sons and their wives don't live with her. At the tender age of 70, she alone takes care of the household.

She also gave me examples of her friends who were operated for knee pain. Some did well, some didn't. One thing was common among all: The surgeons were nowhere to be found once they had operated upon them. Like the superstar mentioned above, unless you take full responsibility of getting back to normal life, no one else would be interested in helping you out. Even with the best of intentions, everyone else can only do so much, and only for a limited time. There will be enough people out there who’ll keep helping themselves, the way it is currently happening in the health care industry. Almost no one is interested in your long-term benefits.

Let there be a big shift from the current approach in managing pain where the almighty doctor is the focus. You know your body unlike any doctor out there. You need to listen to it a little bit more carefully. It's actually not very demanding. It's always looking to a find a way for you. You just need to work with it. Never fight it.

No matter what, I am a big fan of Lance Armstrong, but it's folks like this lady, who get no sponsorship neither money nor any press coverage, that I am a far bigger fan of.

Now what's your excuse to waste this one life that you are sure about? Get off your posterior and start moving.

Keep miling and smiling.

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