In my last post I mentioned I would tell you why exercise for me is an act of survival and not a luxury. 
You see, I’ve never told people this but I have moderate scoliosis. Most people may know what this is but in case you don’t, it is essentially a curvature of the spine and it is categorized based on the severity of the curvature.
Note, I didn’t say I “suffer” from moderate scoliosis because though I have it, I do not believe I suffer from it because I choose to adequately manage it on a daily basis. And so far, I’m doing just fine.
It can be corrected if caught early but in my case, it presents a challenge and can cause me chronic upper back pain. I discovered very many years ago however, that when I workout and participate in purposeful exercise activity, voila!…I am essentially pain free.
Yes, that is right! If I do certain purposeful exercise activity on a regular basis, I can optimize my body to the point where I don’t need to be ingesting anti-inflammatories on a daily basis.
A National Institutes of Health survey suggests that about 50 million people in the US suffer from some form of chronic pain (23 million with chronic pain daily, and another similar amount with intermittent chronic pain).
This is an astounding number and it means that some of you might know of someone who was, is, or perhaps, be the one dealing with this issue.
Unfortunately, based on the way we physicians have chosen to treat this in the past, you may be aware of the current state of affairs of the opioid epidemic and the downstream problem it has caused in our society.
I am not saying that purposeful exercise can treat ALL those forms of chronic pain but I strongly believe that it can help for many of those. 
Back to my issue… When I exercise, I focus on my breathing, posture and balance and specific certain movements that strengthen my core, release pressure points on my spine and several other tricks that I have learned along the way.
My medical background has also helped me gain valuable insight into anatomy and physiology and how I can make movement work for me to optimize my body.
Remember, the operative word here is “OPTIMIZING” my body for the long haul. I not only need to workout, but I also understand how to preserve my body to make it work for me for years to come.
Sure, there is a place for the likes of “Orange Theory” or “Cross Fit” where the herd mentality reigns. Put a group of people together and BOOM! they’re off to the races. These folks thrive on the competition and the camaraderie.
Some enjoy the cheering, screaming, grunting, WOD etc. such as in the cross fit community.
For people like me, I don’t do well in environments like that. Working out for me is like a dose of medicine. Remember, for me, it’s going to replace my anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.)
Research has shown that for a lot of other people, working out does not only improve pain, but it can also replace their anti-depressants, anti-anxiety pills, etc. as well; all because of the endorphins released post workout activity.
These endorphins are substances similar to that of morphine and codeine and they attach to those same receptors which proves the importance of working out to manage chronic pain.
I don’t mean to be too philosophical and take the fun out of working out but I like to make sure that the 30-40 minutes that I am going to spend doing that activity, it is indeed going to be customized for me and is going to therapeutic enough that it will help me to not only survive, but to thrive.
I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. Why? Because I may run the risk of hurting myself.
For example, I avoid lifting heavy weights above my head because if my spine is already crooked, it puts undue stress on certain areas of my spine and creates stress points. I also avoid high impact vertical activity for those same reasons. (Btw, Aquatic therapy and Ai Chi {a form of aquatic exercise similar to yoga in a pool} has proved useful in similar situations like these or if you are recovering from an injury, and I know the only BR trainer who is certified and fantastic at this!)
Anyway, I guess I may have passed the stage of working out just because it’s cool or because it’s in a cool environment. Like I said, I have to work out because it really is an act of survival for me. I need to channel all my energies into that activity for that moment to make sure it is intentional and beneficial for me.
If you would like to workout with me and my team at the Healthcare Gallery & Wellness Spa, we can be reached at 225-384-5378. I have a team of highly specialized personal trainers and a skilled physical therapist who is also an ergonomic specialist that can create a customized workout plan for you.
If you have a place where you’re already working out on a regular basis, make sure you have a discussion with your trainer about how they can optimize your exercises to make sure you’re not at risk of injuring yourself but rather, ensure your body will be ready for the long haul.
I have also created a free secret Facebook group by the way, called Healthcare Gallery Fit Club. Send us a request to join and we will make sure you get in on the group.
My FIT team and I will be sharing valuable insight and tips, recipes, personal wins and challenges in that group to help you crush your fitness and nutrition goals for 2018.
Until then, go slay and crush this sport we call LIFE!
Oh yeah and that’s me below!
Leone F. Elliott Jr., MD, MBA