Despite the heroic title of this blog, for the better part of two years pain was the boss of me. I hurt in multiple places and as a movement professional it was embarrassing. I kept saying to myself: “I’m a professional, how can I hurt so badly?” Or “I can figure this out.” I hope this blog inspires us all to keep searching for intelligent movement professionals and formats that will improve our postural priorities so that we can kick chronic pain to the curb!
In purely medical terms, pain is a negative sensory and emotional experience relating to tissue damage. Chronic pain lasts longer than acute pain and often the cause is imprecise as was my case. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, reduced mobility, lack of sleep and fatigue are the most commonly reported side effects of chronic pain. I had them all.
Pain has its purpose but when it hangs around too long, it is severely limiting.
Often times when we go to a doctor, we don’t get the results we had hoped for so we give up, resolving to “live with the pain.” Alternately, many people in pain are motivated to take pain medication. Annually, about 5 million Americans use pain meds without a prescription and last year 15,000 of them died doing so. Clearly this is not the best solution to handling chronic pain.
Back in the day, doctors used to prescribe rest for all conditions of pain. Now we know better: chronic rest de-conditions us, immobilizes our tissues and often makes the pain worse. Left untreated, chronic inflammation leads to the release of complex body chemicals which reduce nociceptor thresholds (more on nociception in the next blog). This is why hypersensitivity to pain can persist long after the original injurious phase has passed. Over time, when left untreated pain can begin to define who we are. Before we know it, pain is defining how we live our lives and it’s not pretty.
The good news is that pain is an incredibly powerful motivator for positive change! Here are a few tips on how to recover from the depths of discomfort:
• Pain is not the boss of you! Eradicate self-limiting thoughts in your mind first, the body will catch up.
• Resist “learning to live with it,” it only gets worse as you get weaker.
• You are not your pain so avoid possessively identifying with it (lest it believes it really belongs to you and decides to stick around!)
• Become aware of your postural habits.
• Move your body a little more and in different ways each day.
• Allow pain to be your teacher. Rest when you need to, utilize support, but then go ahead and gingerly push the proverbial envelope so that you allow yourself to move beyond the “fear of movement” threshold.
The following are but a few ways in which working with Jill Miller, Yoga Tune Up® Certified Teachers, DVDs and Therapy Balls can help you get your life back:
• Functional, anatomy-based corrective exercises and targeted trigger point massage with trained Yoga Tune Up® teachers and teacher trainers can be your partners in finding smarter ways to stand, sit, sleep and eat.
• Used in combination, the YTU poses and the Therapy Ball practices heighten our proprioception. The practice empowers us to address the many hidden issues in our tissues.
• Yoga Tune Up® postures are designed to stabilize the core and spine, a problematic area for 30% of chronic pain sufferers.
• YTU strengthens weak accessory muscles. Often times we under-use, mis-use or abuse our prime muscles until they spasm.
• Yoga Tune Up® increases circulation of blood oxygen and stimulates movement of lymph and metabolic waste so that injured tissues can recover more efficiently.
• YTU poses improves joint range of motion where necessary and stabilizes where we are hyper-mobile.
• YTU actively rehabilitates our respiratory muscles, releases our inhibitory muscles and enables us to breathe better which results in improved oxygenation and production of feel-good hormones that derail pain signaling.
• The unique grippy texture of Therapy Balls “skin roll” our soft-tissue myofascial layers. Skin rolling effectively “tunes up” frazzled nerve bundles by stimulating the inhibitory large-fiber inhibitory neurons to reduce the frequency and intensity of the pain signals from our small-fiber, quick-adapting pain nociceptors (this means the invisible pain neurons in our skin and muscles learn another language besides “ON”)
If, like me, you have been in pain for a while then getting out of pain is going to require a serious and dedicated practice.
Sharp eyes can help you break your own pain habits: I recommend finding a qualified YTU Teacher in your area.
• Write in “YTU Practice” on your calendar.
• Sign up for YTU at Home so you can start moving, rolling and reprogramming your neural pain pathways.
Make “No More Pain” your top priority and DO THE WORK!
 Unintentional Drug Poisoning in the United States, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2010.