Chronic Pain: Simple Solutions from Someone Who's Been There

 By  Shane Dowd, CES, CMP

In 2011, I was bent, broken, and teetering on the verge of hip surgery...

Over the years, I’ve had every pain and chronic problem you can imagine. 

Fast-forward to today, and those pains and problems are gone—quenched with the cooling water of these 9 simple solutions for chronic pain that I’m about to share with you.

All nine solutions are worth their weight in gold, but the last solution may be the most powerful. Read until the end to uncover this powerful remedy.


This is “Chronic Pain: Simple Solutions from Someone Who's Been There.”


Simple Solution #1: Learn to Listen

When I started my journey out of chronic pain, I thought I was already “in tune” with my body...

After all, I was an athlete with good body awareness. So why, then, did I keep getting hurt? Why did I stay in pain?

It wasn’t until I started a daily mobility practice that things started to change…

As I massaged, stretched, and strengthened my body, I started to “hear/feel” deeper. The light bulbs started going off. Each of these 3 different ways of working on my body allowed me to see deeper and feel more fully. It was as if my body started talking to me, and I started to learn how to listen.

For example, earlier, I kept injuring my lower back, even though I was lifting weights with good technique.

As I learned to listen to my body, it told me why. My hip and ankle mobility were asymmetrical…I just never noticed it before. This asymmetry was like having 1 tire of my car out of alignment, causing it to break down eventually.

By learning to listen, I improved my hip and ankle mobility, posture, and alignment, preventing future breakdowns.


Simple Solution #2: Miracle Breathing

One day, on my journey, I was having a “bad day"...

My body was racked with pain, tightness, tension, and a gnawing ache everywhere. Out of the blue, I remembered the breathing style I had learned in Yoga. I started breathing deeply in and out of breaths, using a slight constriction in the back of my throat. 

In Yoga, they call this Ujjayi breathing or “ocean breathing” (because it sounds like the ocean waves). Within seconds, my pain had subsided 30-40%. I was surprised at how quickly it worked.

In fact, I felt it was a miracle how it could reduce pain, so I called it Miracle Breathing! Whenever you are experiencing sharp and sudden pain or even a chronic dull ache, explore a little bit of Ujjayi or “Miracle Breathing” and see what it does for you.


Simple Solution #3: Body Scan Meditation

I started Vipassana Meditation 11+ years ago and learned the body scan technique...

By practicing this technique every day, my awareness of my body sensations went through the roof, and my equanimity (balance of mind) also skyrocketed. This allowed me to observe my emotions better, AND stay much more calm and relaxed when faced with the inevitable painful sensations of my various injuries.

Since then, I’ve continued a deep meditation practice of 2 hours per day, as well as sit and serve in over 30+ meditation courses, including longer 20, 30, and 45-day silent retreats.

This practice remains, by far, one of the most powerful skills you could develop if you’re dealing with chronic pain. In fact, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) uses the same technique to help millions of people worldwide with stress and pain.

If meditation calls to you, my #1 recommendation is to take a free 10-day Vipassana meditation course from You will learn and practice the technique in an ideal meditation environment. And you’ll experience benefits to your physical and emotional health that go far beyond just improving pain.


Simple Solution #4 is: Move More, Not Less

When Doctors, X-rays, and MRIs told me I had femoroacetabular impingement, a labral tear, and bone cysts in my hip, they told me I should stop running, stop lifting, and stop moving.

I tried that. But it didn’t help.

What did help was moving more BUT moving mindfully.

You see, life is not black or white. It’s not: “Move or don’t move,” “Squat or don’t squat,”...

It’s: “What CAN I do?”

If I can’t run, can I walk? If I can’t walk, can I swim? Search for things you CAN do, and don’t be limited by people telling you what you CAN’T do.


Simple Solution #5 is: Super Friends

In my chronic pain journey, when my motivation was low or the pain was really bad, I found inspiration and support in others...

My friend and mentor, Phil Petachenko, showed me that self-massage could quickly take my pain away. My friend Anthony motivated me to strive for more with his contagious enthusiasm. And many other friends inspired and supported me to stretch, strengthen, and learn about my body at deeper and deeper levels.

If you don’t already have a community of support around you – find one! Ask your friends and family for suggestions…Search Google, YouTube, and Facebook for groups or meetups.

Simply being around others who are focused on the positive and can help you on your journey is invaluable. Don’t miss it.


Simple Solution #6 is: Smile

Similar to our “Move More, Not Less” principle, the attitude of life-long learning and life-long exploration has led me to try new and diverse activities like Yoga, weightlifting, running, frisbee, hiking, swimming, cold water immersion, breath work, mindfulness, meditation, dance, massage, and much, much more.

However, sometimes new activities hurt me! So, the key was to do it with a smile. With a playful attitude. And mindfully.

If I tried a new discipline and met my limits, I didn’t force it.
If I wasn’t good, I didn’t care. The journey is the joy!

And speaking of joy, don’t forget to smile...

They’ve literally done scientific studies where subjects were asked to hold a pencil in their teeth, which forced their lips up into a smile.

Even though it was artificial and not a “genuine smile”, it still made the subjects genuinely happy and reduced stress.

This effect shows the “facial feedback” theory of emotion, which most of us just call “fake it til you make it!”

The idea is simple: Your brain analyzes muscle tension, posture, heart rate, breathing, and, yes, facial expressions to judge how you are feeling. Smile, and you boost your mood. Frown and slouch and watch the gloom set in.

I like to think of smiling as happening in several places:

I smile with my mind…
I smile with my eyes…
I smile with my lips...
And I smile with my heart!

Then, you can carry this whole-body smile into all the new activities you are exploring – so life stays bright and interesting – even if your physical body isn’t perfect.


Simple Solution #7 is: Sleep Is The Magic Pill

I went to a health and fitness seminar in 2013, and during one of the presentations, I heard a phrase that stuck with me forever...

The presenter, one of the world’s leading athletic development coaches, said:

“Everyone is looking for the magic pill. Well, guess what? We found it. It’s sleep. Sleep helps literally everything.”

I’ve found his words to be doubly true if you're dealing with chronic pain. Optimizing your sleep routines and habits can make all the difference in the world.

Some tips that helped me are:

  • Use the “3 pillow sleeping system” for chronic muscle/joint pain—a pillow for the neck, a pillow to hug, and a pill between the knees.
  • Meditate before bed.
  • No phones/screens in the bedroom after meditation
  • If in pain, do some mobility work before bed (massaging/stretching) to make the body more comfortable.
  • Sleep in a cold, dark, quiet room or use white noise.
  • Don’t stress if you wake up. Just smile, breathe, and relax. Being awake isn’t a problem. Stressing about being awake is a problem.


Simple Solution #8 is: Keep It Lean

Higher body fat levels (incredibly visceral fat) are associated with chronic inflammation...

So, if you want less inflammation in your body, keep it lean!

I was a nutrition major in college and have been studying nutrition for over twenty years, so I have always eaten reasonably healthy. However, it wasn’t until I started exploring intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating that managing my weight and body fat levels became effortless and automatic.

The pattern that works for me is simply skipping dinner most of the time. On an average day, I only eat 2 meals a day plus 1 “super shake” made up of protein and veggies after my workout. Your pattern may differ, but the goal is to find a healthy eating pattern that keeps inflammation down, helps retain muscle mass, and keeps body fat levels in a healthy range.

My personal rules for “Keeping It Lean” are:

  • Eat lots of whole foods (mostly veggies)
  • Eat lean sources of protein
  • Drink lots of water (but minimize other calorie-containing beverages like juices/sodas).
  • Explore variations of time-restricted eating/intermittent fasting to find the pattern you can easily stick with for the rest of your life.


Simple Solution #9 is: Your Words Create Your World.

At the beginning of this article, I told you the last solution was the most powerful, and I really mean it.

When I was on the verge of hip surgery at 26, I thought my life was over. It was like living the life of a 90-year-old in my 20s. Pretty disheartening. But amidst this sad time, I remembered some affirmations my father (who passed away recently) taught me when I was a kid.

He taught me to remember:

1.) How is this situation the Universe conspiring on my behalf?
2.) How is this perfect for my growth and learning?
3.) What’s real? Now, what’s possible? ❤️️

I used these reminders or “mental models” when I was at my lowest. When every part of my body hurt and my girlfriend at the time was putting on my socks and shoes because I couldn’t do it, I asked myself: “How will these pains and problems become the best thing that ever happened to me?”

Those words quickly became my reality. I stopped thinking of my multiple injuries and chronic pains as a curse and started considering them a blessing. Fourteen years later, pain-free and helping others with chronic pain, I realized that my “trial by fire” of chronic pain allowed me to develop the knowledge and strength to help others.

Now, over 20,000+ people around the world are using my programs to overcome their own challenges.


Which brings me to you:

If you are dealing with chronic pain, I’m here to help.

If you want personalized, 1-on-1 coaching to overcome chronic pain, schedule a free 15-minute call with me personally.

You can do so by going to to see if you qualify for our 1-on-1 VIP coaching program for people with pain and chronic problems.

I hope this reading provides you with hope. And, as always, please remember: you’re just 1 step away from building, or rebuilding, your perfect body.


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