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OT: What is the premise behind your book, The Pain Handbook?
Dr. Rajat Chauhan: A very basic one… there is no health or care, but only industry, in the healthcare industry. Doctors don’t listen to patients. Too many investigations like X-rays and MRIs are done, which is just the opposite of what international guidelines suggest today. My objective has been to empower the sufferer with knowledge about his own body.
OT: How does one handle pain while travelling? Are there any special precautions one can take?
Dr. Rajat Chauhan: The trick is to be mobile and not in any one posture for very long. On long flights, take an aisle seat so you can get up every 20-30min without disturbing anyone. During long drives, stop or ask to stop the car every 30-45min and stretch and move a bit. Carrying a couple of hand towels comes in handy too. If there is back pain, a rolled up towel can be put behind the lower back pain. If there is neck or upper pain, the same towel can be put like a cervical collar around the neck. Picking up heavy bags during flights is not a very good idea. Never have your wallet in your back pocket and have your backpacks on both shoulders. Ladies’ handbags need to be lighter.
OT: Any exercises one can do while travelling as a preventive measure?
Dr. Rajat Chauhan: While lying down, bring your knees to your chest, hold for a second or two, and back again. While sitting, bend forwards from your middle and lower back, bringing your nose to knees. Feel the stretch and then go back. Then raise your arms up all the way and imagine you’re growing tall. Repeat 7–10 times every 20–30 min. Cross your hands across your chest and rotate to either side. Do all the movements only as far as you are comfortable.
OT: Endurance sports like marathoning and cycling are rising in popularity. As an ultra-marathoner yourself, how would you suggest newbies prepare for these sports?
Dr. Rajat Chauhan: When it comes to exercise for health, broadly speaking there are three pillars—strength, cardiovascular and stretching. In cardiovascular, 30-45 minutes are ample for health. Half-, full- or ultra- marathons are done for passion, not health. So, no, long distance cycling or running is not necessary for everyone. But everyone is capable of doing it. Most folks want to start suddenly after being complete slobs for 2–3 decades. What is needed is a sound foundation to build on. If now running is your love, strength training is your mother-in-law. To do justice to your running, it is important to be in the good books of the mother-in-law. Also, don’t build up long distances suddenly. Start with baby steps. At the end of the day, you should be miling and smiling at the same time.
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