There are several different conditions and injuries that can cause chronic pain, but the summer heat finds a way to make things worse for each one. While colder weather comes with its own set of unique challenges, a sweltering afternoon is just as bad as a bitingly cold night. More than just being uncomfortably hot, a long and harsh summer can be debilitating. The heat can aggravate old pains, and sap away at your energy.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to cut the ‘fun’ from fun in the sun. Summer can still be an enjoyable time of the year for many individuals suffering from chronic pain, but it’s important to consider how you should go about fighting the summer heat and managing those aches and pains.
Beat the Heat
Heat is the greatest factor making hot summers intolerable for individuals with chronic pain, so countering the heat becomes paramount to enjoying your summer time. However, that doesn’t mean you need to lock yourself into an air-conditioned room and wait for the season to blow over into fall.
Consider more portable and flexible options of heat-management, including ice packs, a portable fan, access to plenty of cold water and fresh cold fruit, as well as plenty of shade. Make it a priority to stay out of the sun, and on a hot midday, don’t discount the effectiveness of a parasol in protecting you from the worst that the season has to offer.
Summer heat can be either incredibly arid or uncomfortably humid. Both are terrible in their own special way but call for different attires and necessary aids. Plenty of water is key to staying hydrated on an arid day, and light linen clothing helps keep the air circulating on your skin as you sweat, further cooling you down and preventing any excess inflammation. Don’t forget to give yourself plenty of breaks in the shade and apply ice on anything that feels tender.
On a more humid and sultry day, access to a fan can help you create a personal breeze to enjoy. Lightweight clothing that doesn’t stick to the skin helps your skin breathe and take advantage of the fan you’re carrying. A hat can substitute a parasol but isn’t quite as effective. Be sure to shield your skin and eyes from harsh sunlight, especially on cloudless days.
Cool Off to Manage Chronic Pain
Going for a swim is the perfect way to beat the heat, get some healthy and balanced full-body exercise, and reduce the load on your joints. Water is a great way to deal with many different kinds of chronic pain, and aquatic therapy is often recommended to patients who can swim and have access to the right facilities and instructors. When submerged mostly in water, the human body becomes buoyant due to a combination fat and oxygen, to the point that a person can float entirely on the surface of a body of water through controlled breathing.
This takes almost all pressure off the spine, hips, knees, and other joints, leaving you free to float or swim at your own pace, while successfully seeking refuge from the heat and getting the exercise you need to keep your body healthy and further reduce the effects of your condition.
However, not everyone can swim, either due to a lack of practice or due to physical disability. Just floating by the edge of a pool can be enough to relieve a lot of pressure and cool off.
Don’t Forget to Eat
Heat generally reduces your appetite quite significantly, and while this might help some people lose a few pounds, it’s important not to forget that leaving yourself undernourished can exacerbate pain, especially if you’re losing out on critical minerals and vitamins.
Summer is often a season beset with delicious fruit treats and plenty of fresh produce, so keep an eye out for a variety of healthy and locally-available fruit and veg and gorge yourself on plenty of juicy goodies. Cool drinks, colorful salads, and frozen fruit smoothies are great ways to cool down and get the nutrients you need.
As counterintuitive as it might seem, a hot soup can help your body produce more sweat, and cool down faster. However, if the discomfort is too much to bear, why not go for a delicious gazpacho instead?
Reduce Travel Time
For people who love to travel during the summer, keep in mind how your travel time might affect your chronic pain. Traveling often means spending a lot of time stuck in a car, train, or plane, which can seriously affect the joints and spine over several hours. Give yourself enough of a break between travel periods to recover and stretch.
Plan Nap Times
Not enough sleep can be an absolute killer in cases of chronic pain, and longer summer days alongside unbearable periods of heat can often change a person’s sleeping habits and cause you to struggle with getting the right amount of sleep each day.
Instead, consider planning appropriate nap times to recover from the heat, easily segment each day, and give yourself some extra time to rest. If you’re still having trouble falling asleep after a short adjustment period, consider what might be keeping you awake. Avoid sources of energy late into the night, stop your caffeine intake after midday, stay away from sources of blue light and try dimming your room and cooling your bedroom to enjoy a nice and deep slumber.
Take It Easy and Enjoy Summer
Summer time can encourage plenty of activity, and there’s a lot of things to do. From keeping your garden alive through the heat, to enjoying a wider range of summer activities with the rest of the family, to following through on plenty of travel plans, it’s important not to test your limits and remember to give yourself plenty of breaks, and consider the time you need to recover between bouts.
Don’t let your chronic pain keep you from enjoying this year’s summer. You don’t have to overextend yourself or force yourself through the pain to enjoy the times that are to be had but having a plan of action is important. Keep things at hand to fight the heat, plan for plenty of rest and hydration, and keep yourself well-fed with light and nutritious food.