Have you ever not done something for fear of the outcome or fear that you’d mess it up? I recently had a student share her frustration with progress with me because she felt that everything she did caused pain. She was considering giving up all movement practices in an effort to avoid anything that might trigger soreness or pain.
I hate to break it to you, but even if all you’re doing is sitting at home, you are not doing your body and tissues any favors. The thing is, our tension, discomfort and pain can be caused by a number of factors, including (but certainly not limited to) overuse, underuse, misuse or abuse. Sitting at home like an ostrich with your head in the sand doesn’t protect you from sensation, but could be the very thing that is causing your pain.
There will always be a hill to climb or some challenge to overcome as you improve the flexibility and strength of your body to tolerate more and more activities. Maybe your goal is simply to walk to and from the curb or maybe it’s standing at a party for 30 minutes and not being extremely exhausted the next day. Every activity requires a certain amount of strength and flexibility to do them with efficiency. And while the process of building strength, flexibility and body awareness may seem like a never ending uphill battle, I promise you, it is not.
The practice of embodiment through self-care includes tuning in and improving your sense of self, both in stillness and motion, in addition to building strength and mobility. One without the other, is not complete. Having an improved sense of self will help you to better gauge when you are near to the edge of your own physical limitations.
I am adventurous and intentionally try not to limit myself for fear of outcomes. I suppose you could call me “ballsy”!(unless it has to do with heights and then heck no 😜) But even I have times when I over do it. For example, I recently went to Disneyland with my mom, and kept track of the distance we walked with our FitBit trackers. According to our trackers, we logged at least 8 miles! I made the mistake of not wearing proper shoes (don’t choose fashion over function!) and certainly paid the price. The next day, my feet were in a ton of pain and incredibly stiff. It took a week of stretching and therapy ball use to fully recover. Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely – you can’t let the fear of an outcome prevent you from doing something you love. Will I do things differently next time? Absolutely – I will be wearing sneakers!
Life is short and you only get one body to play with. Now you could choose to pack yourself away and never appreciate the wonderful machine that it is, or you could be willing to put yourself out there and experience everything that you want to. I’m not saying go run a marathon if you have no interest in it. I’m simply suggesting that you go whatever the heck you want to do. A regular self-care practice is essential to staving off injury and preparing your tissues for whatever comes your way. Just as you brush your teeth daily to prevent cavities, you should be practicing self-care to keep stress and injuries at bay. Having a detailed body map will also help you figure out the source of your pain. Did I roll my feet after Disneyland? Yes, but I also rolled my calves and lower back, both of which helped way more than the feet alone.
This isn’t to belittle those of you with chronic pain – I can’t even imagine what’s it’s like living in a body that is constantly in pain, but what I hope to encourage us all with is the idea that change is always possible.
It might be slow, it might not be what you expected, and it might be frustrating, but your body is constantly adapting to what you do to it. Even if it may feel like you are made of unchanging stone, your body is ALIVE. Your cells, tissues, organs and muscles all respond to the types of loads and activities you put them through. So if what you’re doing isn’t working, change it up. If what you’re doing is nothing, DO SOMETHING! Change, my friend, is always at your fingertips.
- July 29 – Aug 7: YTU Level 1 Teacher Training (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
- August 13-14: Structurally Sound Embodied Anatomy for Every Body Workshop Series (San Francisco, CA)
- August 28: Mobility for Performance Total Body Treatment (Santa Monica, CA) just added!
- September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
I would Love to see a follow-up to this article (Chronic Pain Series ;), on ways that people with chronic pain can use Yoga Tune up and other movement practices to help alleviate their suffering 😉
Done! It’s coming your way 🙂