Why am I in pain?
Part 2: Movement as habit
Part 2: Movement as habit
Part 3: Emotional and Mental patterns
Part 4: Diet
Part 5: Toxicity
Part 6: Lifestyle
Part 7: Case studies and Conclusion
In my work as a body therapist, and NLP coach, I am often asked the Question “Why am I in pain?” It is usually followed by “Can it be fixed?”
The usual issues that raise “the Question” are neck, back and sciatic pain, whiplash, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel/rsi or tennis elbow, headaches and migraines.
If you or someone you care about has a painful issue that hasn’t done the decent thing and simply just gone away, then this series of articles offers:
-avenues to explore that you may not have considered yet
-fresh perspectives on those you may have tried already
-some suggestions about where to best invest your time, energy and money.
Movement as Habit
Question – what proportion of your actions today were habit….?
Question – is it what you are doing that hurts – or HOW you are doing it…?…and exactly how do you lift your arm, say, with over 100 muscles involved…?
Joints in the body repair themselves, but what if the way you learned to “organise” an action creates more wear and tear than the body can keep up with? This is another way of asking why do some people experience pain or discomfort from the the same activity that seems easy and natural for someone else?
Our habits of movement can always be developed in terms of efficiency, – ask even any gold medal athlete. Movement can even become one of life’s simple pleasures (think ‘cat’, purrfectly indulgent in a good stretch). An efficient movement take less strength and energy, and spreads the load on overworked joints. Think “work smarter not harder.”
How we learn our movement
Human babies have to learn pretty much all of their movement – I think of it as building up a movement library. A horse, say, can be thought of as arriving into the world pre-programmed for a lot of its movement and can run inside of an hour after being born, while a human that takes a year or so to do the same thing.
When we learn something that works for us we tend to move onto developing the next skill, rather than working on the first skill until it is completely perfect.
Also how we define “works”, especially once the age of self-conciousness is reached may be more about looking cool, or feeling emotionally safe, but not be that useful in terms of posture, balance and longevity.
Typically our habits of movement are taken completely for granted and not improved until they cause pain.
How to move yourself out of pain:
The Feldenkrais Method™ is the best thing that I have found for helping you develop the awareness and tools to find out what you don’t know about how you move, and improve your habits. You can develop not just pain-free movement but possibly pleasurable and graceful function too!
There are other somatic disciplines ranging from Tai Chi to Skinner technique and more. There is no substitute for trying a few out and seeing which method or teacher/practitioner works for you.
Beware of people (or practitioners) who tell you there is one right way to do something. Their advice may get you in the ballpark, but you will need to experiment and increase your awareness to find the best way for you at any particular moment.
Just speaking the word can cause people near you to shuffle about, perhaps looking a little guilty, as they try and “correct” the way they are holding themselves.
Most of us have been told to sit straight, stand properly by our parents, and many office workers have been told the “right way” to sit or organise their workstations.
Oh yes, we have always plenty of people telling us what to do…
Somewhere to start: Redefine “Posture” in terms of movement.
Rather than considering right posture as being the right way to hold yourself still, usually according to someone elses instruction, how about we redefine posture in terms of movement, and consider how you can find it in your own unique way that best fits your body, today?
If you start with moving very slowly and gently you will up your sensitivity, and can begin to let go of unnecessary tension and strength being used to do simple tasks.
Then you can feel for a way of sitting, say, where you are relaxed, but equally free to move in any direction instantly, without a preparatory movement. This is your new definition of “posture” – Moshe Feldenkrais termed it “acture”, or “action posture”
For instance if you are slouched on the couch, you can probably go left or right easily enough, but going up will require you digging yourself out of the cushions. It is possible to be balanced in a relaxed way on a firm chair and be able to stand up, duck down, spin or anything instantly.
About the author
Craig Love is an NLP Coach and a certified practitioner of 3 body therapies, ConTact C.A.R.E, Ortho-Bionomy, Zero Balancing, and is part way through adding the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education to his toolbox. He works in and around Auckland, New Zealand with animals as well as people, helping with issues as diverse as whiplash and back pain to phobias and anxiety, and with “labels” from Fibromyalgia to Crones Disease.