“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Pain is part of the evaluation process when you are presented with it in your daily life and activities. Your movements will be complicated, dysfunctional and any sustainable activity that requires strength, endurance or flexibility will not be possible.
Pain changes motor control function, it does this by increasing or decreasing muscle activation. Because of these changes in muscle activation, we alter movement patterns as a way to work around the muscle pain or injury.
Our body has adopted a new (dysfunctional) movement pattern with no current pain present. This helps to explain why previous injuries are the most common reason for future injury. And this cannot be resolved without retraining proper movement patterns.
I see this often in our massage practice when I am stretching hamstrings on clients who reported injuring their low back but with no current pain in that area; as I passively stretch their hamstrings their hips or upper body will jerk or shift away from the pain. These clients are doing so because their bodies have learned to avoid that movement even with no current pain reported.
“What is it about pain that changes the way people move? What is it about the way people move that causes pain?” Gray Cook
Pain in Society Today
Have you ever injured a body part? Do you remember how well or not-so-well you moved with that injury? Modern technology has so many different creams, pain-killers, prescription drugs, braces, wraps and athletic tape for you to cover up or mask the pain so that, you can go about your daily lives.
In the short term these therapeutic aides may help you; many athletes use them so that they can continue to play their sport. But the problem that I see is that you routinely go to these methods without any thought or consideration to what is causing, your pain to begin with.
I find it very amusing that, you will react to a computer virus, bug or alert faster than, you will with your own alert system. Pain is a warning sign just like the one flashing on your computer. It is an indicator to a problem before it becomes a chronic issue. So if you are experiencing pain, be thankful that your nerves are still firing.
Fight pain with proper movement and functional exercises
Have you been to the gym lately?. These “so-called” fitness machines have us sit, lay or get buckled in without fully utilizing our musculature or even our core stabilizers muscles.
This is not healthy; its not fitness and it is not even functional. Imagine your mom trying to carry a bag of groceries up a flight of stairs. This is truly when she will need her legs, feet and low back muscles to judge load balance and stabilize. Or try to imagine yourself boarding a plane and putting your carry-on in the over-head compartment are you buckled in or sitting on a machine now? No! This is when you need your core, without it you will injure yourself.
Tell me if this makes sense, what good is it to have an aesthetically pleasing body when this person cannot touch their toes in forward flexon? Or to have someone who competes in triathlons and yet cannot do a full squat without their heels staying flat on the ground or watching their knees go into valgus collapse?
Massage Therapy and its role for me
I am 43 years young and recently someone asked me if, I was going through a mid-life crisis because I have shaved my head and have become a fanatic about running, going to yoga, working out and getting massages.
If I am going through a mid-life crisis, I am going to re-define what that means and what that should look and feel like. I have a beautiful 17 month young baby girl and a 2 month old baby boy. I have found myself with a new role; living for my kids. And I want to live well for them, be able to play outside with them as well as be a GREAT role model for them.
So the role that massage therapy plays for me is it takes my body out of the equation. And what this means to me is training without pain. Massage therapy or bodywork as I like to call it has effectively allowed me NOT to worry about my physical limitations due to pain and simply allow me to concentrate just on my mental game. And you cannot do that if you have pain present anywhere.
Your body will avoid a movement when there is something wrong. When your body is affected by limited range of motion and other dysfunctional patterns of movement, pain will develop every time. As my business partner would say, “take the excuse out!” Let massage therapy and bodywork take the excuse out for you, so that you can train, move and live pain-free.