Woah. Two years since my last post. I suppose it is time to dust off the ol' keyboard and get back at it! My last post was written about 4 days before I found out I was pregnant with little Nevin. He is now 16 months old and is tearing up the house. I really can't even remember to a time without him. It's strange how life does that to us - when we live with someone long enough, they feel like they have always been a part of us.
What a perfect segway....
Pain is funny like that too. When we live with dysfunction long enough, we stop remembering what our bodies felt like without it. It morphs into every movement, every breath and just becomes our barometer for "normal" - albeit a rather shitty version of normal.
I talk about this with patients on the daily, most of the time the conversation goes something like this:
ME: "So what brings you in today?"
THEM: "I have this pain in my (insert body part), it has become rather constant and is now at the point that it is on my mind all day long"
ME: "When did this start"
THEM: "I don't even know. I can't remember not feeling it."
They don't even know because dysfunction is sneaky. It is layered and complex and deceiving. Pain is an experience that is formulated in the brain, driven by input from the body. As a defence mechanism, our brains will start telling our bodies to subtly start moving in different ways, behave abnormally, and even diminish or increase activity to certain muscles. I told you - it's sneaky. This is all well and good because it is what keeps us keeping on.....until it's not. Usually by the time we are experiencing more constant, nagging pain we have been dysfunctional for quite some time.
Pain is our bodies telling us there is a problem. It is a alarm that starts off gentle and then starts to scream when we leave it too long. It is one of our best defences, yet we try to silence it. However, we all know that where there is smoke, there is fire.
So, what does this all mean? I don't mean to be an alarmist (pun intended), but I do want you to perhaps think about what your body (brain) is telling you. I want you to use pain as a signal to get help. I want you to consider treating your body as well as you treat your car. Seems obvious, right? The analogy is brilliant though because it is all the same - that screeching noise in the car isn't going to go away by turning the radio up louder. In fact, it is going to get a whole lot worse (and more expensive) the longer you leave it. You better believe the same goes for your body, but there is no trading it in for a newer model in a few years. Imagine how well you would take care of your car if it had to last you a lifetime!
I'm not saying progress is pretty, but it doesn't need to be painful.
I challenge all of us to slow down a tad and listen to what our bodies (brains) are telling us. I don't want to oversimplify the experience of pain, and undermine the challenges of those living with chronic pain. However, don't let that ache in your shoulder or that pulling in your back continue. Don't resign to never playing (insert sport) again, or stop wrestling on the ground with your kids because you are not sure you can get back up. On the other side, don't keep doing (insert activity) and then complaining how much it hurts as though this makes you a stronger person - life is too short to spend it feeling beat up and broken.
"No Pain, No Gain" is a silly phrase muttered by silly people. It cultivates a belief that dysfunction and pain is a badge of honour that we carry around. The busier we are, the more tired we are, the more injured we are is not something we should take pride in. I'll leave you with a much better phrase to mull over:
Take care of your body, it's the only place you have to live - Jim Rohn