Pain, Pain, and More Pain

“Studies found that an estimated 25.3 million adults (11.2 percent) experience chronic pain. Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) experience severe levels of pain.  The analysis was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and was published in The Journal of Pain.”

In the world there are many options for pain relief. The important questions to ask are which choice provides only temporary relief and which one focuses on educational methods that teach personal skills that can be used for a lifetime? For example, a drug or treatment oriented approach, or a movement education and awareness approach.

In general, most pain relief modalities do not include the “cause” of the pain but treat the symptoms. This usually results in temporary pain relief. Labeling conditions of the body such as stenosis of the spine or disc degeneration does not refer to a cause, but to an effect.

Except for things that are out of our control, like a car accident, most pain comes from how we use our body in daily activities-for better or for worse. Most of us have unconscious and harmful ways of movement that simply “feel right”. We don’t question them and so we proceed to use them in every movement we perform.

The body has a perfect innate movement system we were born with. You can observe this in small children and watch it develop from infancy to uprightness. At some point, and for a variety of reasons, we pick up habits that interfere with this organic, natural system of movement. We compress, tighten, torque the spine and create an in-balance in the musculature, which often leads to pain.

Identifying the Causes of Your Pain

Pain and injury comes from performing daily activities while unconsciously using tension, compression, brute force or gripping that effects different parts of the body repeatedly over time, until something gives way. Like water wearing away on a rock, physical problems and conditions are created in the body. Typically the areas most affected are knee and hip joints, spinal discs, feet, upper body and neck.

Misusing the body causes repetitive strain injuries and muscular skeletal pain as well as affecting breathing, and other systems of the body such as digestion.

Pain also comes from accidents such as; car accidents, falling down and breaking a bone, or damaging the spine. Those accidents usually cause unconscious habit patterns of compensation such as; continuing to protect the area that was hurt by favoring it after it has healed. Over time this can cause an imbalance in the body not detected by the individual.

As well, pain can come from not understanding what posture means or how the natural movement system works. Many of us were told to “stand up straight”, hold our tummy in, tuck and tighten our buttocks – even when we walk, bend or lift. We are instructed to “do” so many things by our teachers, coaches, and medical professionals. We take all that information in, and unaware, we respond through our habitual movement patterns.

Posture is a moving, poised, engaged coordination of the body, rather than a stiffly held back or toneless slumping of the spine. Holding the body rigid effects the structures of the spine, just as slouching effects the spine. Both postures affect breathing and organs of the body.

Furthermore, pain results from not thinking of the body during our daily activities. What are we doing with our neck, head, back and limbs when we vacuum, pick something up, get out of a chair, reach for a glass in the cabinet, walk, and fix our hair? Do we grip the steering wheel with our hands?

If you are a musician, what is your body doing the moment you take up your instrument to play, or inhale a breath to sing a musical note? For the athlete, how are you using your body to run, kick the ball, swim or cycle? At the office, what is your body doing the moment you reach for the keyboard? What position is your body in? Are you tensing your wrists?

And finally, pain also comes from stress and anxiety. We are psychophysical beings. Over time, as we get overstressed or over-anxious, the central nervous system gets overloaded and will dump the excess stress in to the muscular system.

We can have conscious control over our bodies and minds. We can respond with healthy conscious choices of movement that bring about ease and use appropriate energy. We can respond to our daily life with calm, positive thoughts, and feelings.