1/22/2003 - There’s reason enough for people not to smoke, given the adverse health consequences and the detrimental effects it has on exercise performance. But now there’s even more reason for butting out.
There’s reason enough for people not to smoke, given the adverse health consequences and the detrimental effects it has on exercise performance. But now there’s even more reason for butting out. A new study has shown that smoking is literally a pain in the neck and for that matter in the rest of the musculoskeletal system.
The Link Between Smoking & Pain...
While previous studies have suggested links between smoking and pain, especially chronic back pain, most of these studies did not factor out lifestyle factors, such as on-the-job manual labor, as a possible contributing cause.
The present study consisted of questions about pain in the low back, neck, and upper and lower limbs during the past 12 months; smoking habits; physical activities at work; headaches; and tiredness or stress. 12,907 subjects, including 6,513 who had smoked at some time, among whom 3,184 were current smokers, completed questionnaires. Smoking habits were related to age, social class, report of headaches, tiredness or stress, and manual activities at work.
The survey found that smokers complain more often of discomforting or disabling musculoskeletal pain than never-smokers. They found that, compared with those who had never smoked, current smokers had about a 50% higher incidence of reporting pain in the past year preventing activity, meaning pain so severe it precluded the individual from going to work or performing housework or hobby activities.
Pain at all sites--lower back, shoulders, elbows, hands, neck and knees--was higher in smokers, even ex-smokers, than people who never smoked. What's more, this association held in both those who had physically demanding jobs as well as those who had white-collar or other jobs that did not require heavy lifting or moving. Since the association was found even in ex-smokers, this suggests that smoking may, according to the researchers, cause long-term damage to muscle tissues or changes in the neurological pain response.
The Bottom Line...
Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that if you exercise vigorously, one thing you don’t need is more musculoskeletal pain, which you might be getting if you smoke.
6 Tips To Help You Quit Smoking!
- Stop Right Now! Don't set a quit date because too many times I've set a quit date and ended up pushing it back to the point where I had smoked another week/month/year and so on. If you want to quit, no time like the present.
- Get Rid Of All The Cigarettes Around You! If you have a carton or a couple of packs in your house, get rid of them. It's too easy to say, "Well, I'll just smoke this last pack." Then before you know it, you've started smoking again. This may be hard if you live with someone who smokes, in this case they should keep them away from you and be supportive of your needs.
- Avoid Cues To Smoke! If you always smoke at the bar, don't go there for a while. If you always smoke with a beer or coffee, stay away from those two. I had to give up beer for a while, but sooner or later you'll be able to have a beer without the need for a nicotine fix.
- Work Out! Hey all of us do this already, so we know about the flood of endorphins we get during exercise. Something we definitely want in absence of our favorite stimulant.
- Replace Smoking With Another Activity! I chewed gum. Whenever I had a craving, I chewed a piece of REGULAR gum! Those quit smoking gums are nasty! Try to find something that you can do to replace your habit like chewing gum or drinking a glass of water.
- Think To Yourself, "I will not have a cigarette today" rather than, "I will never have a cigarette ever again." It's easier to take things one day at a time than telling yourself that you will never have something ever again. Pretty soon those days add up and they'll turn into years of smoke free living.