The truth is that the majority of us live in pain. Some people have chronic pain that affects everything they do every day, for some, it's an old sports injury that they’ve learned to deal with. While for others it’s nothing more than a dull ache that only comes to the fore when their busy lives allow them enough time to stop and contemplate exactly how their body really feels. The point is that pain is the most common human ailment and none of us really know how to deal with it. We are all aware that pain killing tablets do more harm than good and the advice from many is to hit one of those shopping center massage places to get some deep tissue happening. But am I the only person in the world that thinks these places make you feel worse? Am I the only one that leaves the chair after what is meant to be a relaxing pain relieving exercise feeling like I’ve just done ten rounds getting beaten to a pulp in a boxing ring? Surely there is a better way. Surely there are more enjoyable holistic journeys to a happy, pain-free existence.
Who would have thought that watching Adam Sandler movies would help relieve the pain that bangs at your body every day? Ok, maybe not Adam Sandler movies, but it seems there is a medical reason behind the feel-good factor that comes with binge watching funny TV shows on Netflix because laughter is one of nature’s greatest holistic pain relievers.
According to an article by, Ian Mason Ph.d. medical researchers based in Switzerland presented evidence to the European Pain Federation Congress in Florence Italy that the pain relieving properties of a giggle can last long after the laughter stops.
“As a result, humor helps to reflect pain, thus helping both the patients as well as their carers to deal better with stress,” said Professor Willibald Ruch, of Zurich University.
As part of the study, patients were asked to place their hands in bowls of iced water while watching TV with those that watched funny movies being able to keep their hands in the water longer than those that didn’t. The amazing news for pain sufferers is that this phenomenon continued for sometime after the movie had finished meaning the long lasting pain relieving effects of a good belly laugh should not be ignored.
We are complex beings with complex emotions that have evolved over time to protect us against the rigors of life. Almost every move or thought we have triggers some kind of chemical or electrical reaction that helps us deal with a given situation. Study researcher Robin Dunbar, of the University of Oxford, says that laughter is at the fore of this and not just in superficial social interactions but more importantly as an aid to relieve pain.
Laughter aids in the release of the happy hormones known as endorphins. We all know that meeting new people can be awkward and for some downright nerve-wracking. But, if we share a laugh with that person we instantly feel good about them. We relax, feel more at ease and this can form lifelong bonds and friendships. In fact, the ability to make us laugh is the number one trait that we look for in the opposite sex. Laughter unites us, creates love, diffuses arguments, stops tears and, it seems, helps relieve pain.
“We think that it is the bonding effects of the endorphin rush that explain why laughter plays such an important role in our social lives,” he said in his paper on the subject.
“When laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change (and are often lower). These results can best be explained by the action of endorphins released by laughter.”
Bowen Therapy is seen as the softer alternative to those deep tissue massages some people simply can’t endure. Named after Australian, Tom Bowen, this type of massage consists of gentle manipulation of aching muscles, joints an tendons and can be performed through a patients clothing. A 2015 study by Australia’s Health Department questioned the validity of Bowen Therapy and it was even placed on the country’s questionable treatments list. But in 2002, reports taken from, Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, found that those who undertook Bowen Therapy for things such as frozen shoulder had significant increases in their range of motion and a reduction in overall pain. Bowen therapy is thought to work by triggering the body’s own pain management and repair systems. Practitioners also like to pause during any given session when they sense a build-up of muscle stress and tension. This slight pause is thought to help the body by giving it time to respond to the holistic healing process by draining the lymphatics and kick-starting the immune system. Not only can a properly functioning immune system help fend off nasty diseases but it also helps fight inflammation of the joints and tendons, in turn, easing the pain associated with arthritis.
We’ve all seen sportsmen jump into ice bath’s after a tough day in the office, but why? The idea behind this holistic recovery procedure is that cooling the body’s core temperature will draw blood out of the muscles as it looks to use that blood to protect the major organs. While this process is taking place it also takes with it any nasty lactic acid build up. Once the athlete jumps into a hot shower the body will then refill the muscles with new, freshly oxygenated blood thus helping with repair and recovery.
Now I’m not saying that we all need to hit the same extreme, but it seems that we can help manage our bodies in a similar way by simply turning the shower to cold once in a while.
Painscience.com says that contrast hydrotherapy can be a great holistic approach to pain management helping with ailments such as tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, and tendinitis. The aim with contrast hydrotherapy is to ease into it. Don’t slam the shower on ice cold and then make it super hot try breaking down into steps.
About 2 minutes of heating: comfortably hot
About 1 minute of cooling: cool, not cold (unless you’re tough)
About 2 minutes of heating: hotter
About 1 minute of cooling: colder
About 2 minutes of heating: hot as you can handle, but please don’t try and be a hero.
About 1 minute of cooling: cold as you can handle
So there it is, next time you are feeling the pinch and pains of day to day life all you have to do is book yourself in for some light Bowen therapy. Follow it up with a funny movie and then wash the day away with a hot and cold shower and you should wake up in the morning ready to conquer the world.