How Aches And Pains Become “Normal”
I recently spent some time receiving a series of myofascial treatment sessions for myself. I wasn’t in crisis. Didn’t have anything seriously bothering me. But was aware of some nagging trouble that just never seems to resolve.
You know, shoulder, back, and neck tension “from too much time in front of a computer”. A hip that tends to ache when I “stand wrong” or “too long”. A foot that cramps because of a sprain that is still healing. Things that seem normal due to the type of work I tend to do. Things that seem normal given past injuries.
During the course of my treatment sessions, it was interesting to become aware how much these “normal” parts of my life experiences were solidifying in my body. Partly because I consider them to be normal, and have been doing very little to address them on a daily basis as part of my self treatment.
My “Normal” Solution For Aches And Pains
In particular, during the intake portion of my treatment program, I was asked, what do you do when your back aches?
That was an easy answer.
I tend to lie on the floor with my knees bent until my spine and sacrum settle and start to feel better.
It has been a perfectly fine solution, for a long time, for resetting my tension levels at the end of the day.
Yet, as I discussed my current solution out loud with another therapist, I began to hear differently what it is I have been doing.
when something hurts,
I tend to get still and quiet in my body
and wait for it to stop hurting.
Again, a perfectly valid solution. But it is one that I am constantly repeating for the same trouble.
I know my daily actions and work will create strain and tension again, likely in the same ways again. I live in gravity. Work requires muscular effort. Walking requires skeletal and muscular movement. I use my body to move and live and work and play.
And, I know, at some point in the day, I will need to lie still and quiet and breathe into tight areas until aches and pains begin to ease and my tension levels begin to reset.
What Else Can Help Ease Aches And Pains?
I have become curious about what else I might do.
For example, movement exploration to find and address the areas of my spine that tend to not move well, especially when I twist or bend. Kind of like the movement exploration here.
Or, movement exploration to work with the twist in my leg that both contributes to and is affected by the trouble above it in my hip and below it in my foot and ankle.
Or, movement exploration like this through my shoulder girdles and ribs, looking to improve mobility, glide, and reach.
It is a variation on a theme. A theme that makes evident a missing component in my self treatment.
Is An Exercise Program Or Going To Gym The Same Thing?
The short answer is, no.
Clients often ask about strengthening, exercise, going to the gym, and working out.
The type of movement exploration I am talking about and beginning to use in my own self treatment practice more is not those things, though.
It is exactly what it sounds like, exploration.
Exploration of movement in small and gentle ways.
Looking for the areas that are stuck.
Looking for the areas that I tend to move around.
That have been outside my awareness and thus outside my control.
Looking for ways in which movement might be better supported.
Using simple shifts in my weight and balance to find these.
Strength programs, weight training, exercise, and working out are frequently activities that are engaged in too soon for those recovering their myofascial health. Strengthening and working out on top of dysfunction does not resolve the dysfunction. It masks it. It distorts the myofascial system further.
Where Does Movement Exploration Fit In Recovering The Health of the Myofascial System?
Resetting tension levels in the body is essential. Often this must be addressed first, recovering an ease in the autonomic nervous system of the body and an ability to quiet and soften.
Restoring fluidity and plasticity in the fascial tissue is essential. The ability to calm and quiet and reset at the end of a day is good. But if tissues remain glued, dehydrated, and thickened, the benefit of softening will be limited.
Retraining the body, strengthening, and increasing capacity for activity and movement are essential. Those are the basis, after all, of how we interact with and enjoy life. Travel, sports, family time, walking, biking, skiing, pickleball – the things that make life interesting and enjoyable almost always revolve around the ability to move with ease and strength.
There can be a zig zag back and forth between the various aspects of healing and recovery as everyone has their own unique patterns of restrictions and habits. But each area must be addressed.
Personally, I have been working in the realm of resetting tension levels and restoring fluidity and plasticity in the fascial tissues. I am pretty good at doing that regularly.
It is time to start moving.
If you find yourself in need of some help, please reach out!