Pain. No one likes the “P” word. That’s what we were asked to call it in my recent birthing class. We treat is as though it is the feeling that “should not be named” (Harry Potter reference for all of you HP fans).
Many people turn to massage therapy as a way to manage pain due to stress and tension. In my years of being a massage therapist and working in different arenas such as clinical chiropractic offices to spas, pain is something almost everyone mentions during their initial intake form. Very rarely do I hear, “I feel great” the first time I meet someone. Sure, after they have been in my practice for awhile, I hear that but not too often in the beginning. Sometimes I hear about stress or tension that they are currently experiencing, but really, isn’t that a form of pain as well?
Just for a moment, let’s take a look at pain and what it does for us. Essentially, pain is a messenger to our brain. I don’t know about you, but I find comfort knowing that pain is my body doing what it is supposed to be doing. That doesn’t make it go away or make it any easier to handle, but it does give an explanation for the opposite of great that I’m experiencing. By the way, I’m totally going to remember this post when I’m giving birth and I may have a different view on this in that moment! haha!
Another point worth mentioning is that pain, both physical and emotional are still messages to our brain. Even emotional pain is a signal that something is not working properly. If you’ve known anyone who has suffered from depression, you can see that they are not operating at their optimal potential. Depression and Anxiety disorders are real issues that should not be ignored or taken lightly. Rarely do you see someone living in depression mode 100% of the time. Even though it may be subtle, they come in and out out of their down funk. And through this emotional roller coaster, it could be difficult to identify when they are functioning at their optimal level.
Physical pain and chronic pain can be very similar. When you have an injury or faced with a diagnosis, something is standing in your way of functioning optimally. It could be walking or laying down or just a dull, annoying ache that’s constantly reminding you of the event you endured. I have seen many people experience pain in many different ways. I have heard people say, “I have a high pain tolerance.” I have heard people say they don’t feel anything when my trained hands & feet feel a major disruption in their musculature! (which is truly remarkable and inspires me everyday) I have seen people who have had injuries over 25 years old that still affect them to the present day. One thing that I have found in my experience with working with people in pain, is that the ones who suffer, identify with their pain. “Hi, I’m Bob and I have chronic right shoulder pain that keeps me from throwing a football with my son.” This disfunction has become a part of who they are and their everyday. I feel it’s important to mention, that by no means is their experience not serious or important. It’s definitely important to them (and me) because it inhibits their ability to live freely.
What can you do about pain?
- Explore your options. Really, explore your options with an open and accepting mind! Do your best to throw out what you used to know or what you think you know and see each new approach as potentially the missing link. Also, don’t be stupid about this, be educated and do your research before dismissing what your doctor suggests. (And, I’m not suggesting you should not listen to your doctor!)
- Understand and realize you have choices and they are yours and no one else’s to make. Each of us have the responsibility to be in charge of our own health. It is up to you to ask questions and understand what you’re experiencing and the choices you have.
- Embrace and focus on the good parts of your life. Yes, your left knee might give you fits but let’s make sure you’re taking care of your right knee, too!
To conclude, pain is a part of life. It’s all about how you handle it to determine your experience with it. Balance is the key and if you can find the joy in between the moments of pain, you are on the right track.
Nikki and I are here to help you find the joy and relief you are seeking. We look forward to seeing your strides in finding your balance and more joy!
To Health and Experiencing Joy Each Day,
Disclaimer: This is what I’ve seen in my experience with my clients. This is by no means a replacement to what your doctor suggests. Massage therapy can be a supplemental way to manage pain but should not be a replacement for prescribed pain management.