What if the FIRST thing you do when pain happens is the LAST thing you should do if you want true relief?
If you’re like most people on the planet when pain happens then you probably do the ONE thing that seems to be in our biology. It’s instinctual, habitual and seemingly benign. But chances are it WON’T get you out of pain, and it just might make things worse.
- Your knee gets a stabbing pain, folds you in half and you reach down to touch it.
- Your back seizes up and you instinctively grab it and feel around as you try to stand upright.
- Your shoulders hurt, so you massage them (or ask someone else to).
- Your elbow hurts, and you grab hold of it.
- You get a tension headache and hold your head in your hands.
- Et etc.
This first act in and of itself is perfectly natural and it makes total sense that we’d instinctively want to make contact with our pain.
It’s what we do NEXT that truly matters.
Do you REACT to the pain and fixate on what’s hurting?
Do you get CURIOUS and try to find the root cause?
The habit most of us have is to fixate on what’s hurting followed closely by an attempt to silence, comfort or eliminate the pain: maybe you take an over the counter pain killer that’s already in your medicine cabinet; maybe you gently rub or massage that area; maybe you ice it (because you probably learned the very outdated RICE protocol in middle school, which for the record I’m not a fan of at all).
When these mild reactions don’t work you might seek out help from professionals who are a little more aggressive than you: perhaps you try a deep tissue massage or a chiropractic adjustment. And while these might seem like very good ideas, if they are also fixated on the site of pain and not looking elsewhere for the CAUSE, then you’re still caught in the same trap.
Or maybe you try to isolate and immobilize the area via a knee, back, wrist or ankle brace or boot…
What’s missing from this approach?
What ALL of these reactions have in common is a complete lack of curiosity about and awareness of THE REST OF YOUR BODY.
If you seek out a medical professional for help with your pain, chances are – unless they are very holistic in their approach to pain (and these professionals DO exist, though it’s been my experience that they are rare) – they will look at/palpate and/or X-ray, MRI or ultrasound the site of pain and suggest a course of action that focuses only on the site of pain: cortisone shots, pain pills, surgery, a brace, a boot, orthotics or shoe lifts etc.
Even so-called alternative and holistic methods more often than not (in my experience, and I was one of these when I was a massage therapist) focus on where the pain is, instead of looking for the cause. If you go to a massage therapist for back pain, I’d be willing to bet that a large majority of therapists will go straight for your back. If you go to a chiropractor for neck pain, chances are pretty high they will adjust your neck.
I will say I have sought out chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists who “get” the idea that where the pain is isn’t the problem, so they absolutely do exist; but I had to weed through a bunch of others first who didn’t get it and I still see this mentality being the status quo of both western and alternative practitioners who deal with people in pain.
It’s my position that this is precisely why there are so many people in pain who aren’t getting the relief they so desperately want, because MOST of the time…