It is difficult to go through life without experiencing some sort of pain or injury. Almost everyone that we see is dealing with pain of some form. Some present as acute, but the most common is chronic. A lot of chronic pain sufferers come with a history of motor vehicle accidents, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, or recovery from a total hip or knee replacement.
Registered Kinesiologist can help in these two areas of chronic pain:
1) We address the pain by prescribing movements that will improve strength and range of motion to correct the pain, specifically that speaks to the cause of the pain.
2) We address the guarding and accommodation that has not only resulted from the pain but is perpetuating more pain.
Number two is often the barrier from moving forward into progress; the ball and chain that is keeping someone in their pain state. It goes beyond the physical injury or trauma that may have initially occurred to create the pain. It’s a behavioral state that has both conscious and unconscious aspects. Moving past this barrier is by far the most difficult task as no two people are the same in how they recover.
If you deal with chronic pain, know this:
1) Your pain is real
2) Your pain is treatable- often through movement
What is it about movement that addresses pain?
Diving back about guarding and/or compensation. Two things have happened:
1) Pain from an ailment or physical trauma has imprinted messages to the body regions on the brain map thus creating some behavioral guarding to the area ie: not wanting to stress or elongate the area
2) Any pain that may exist emotionally, whether related to the cause of the pain or not, can further the physical pain.
The emotional component comes with it’s own body behavioral pattern. Example: the head protruding forward or down along with tight and elevated shoulders is commonly seen. Any type of pain can and likely will result in this posture. There are numerous subtle changes as well that a Registered Kinesiologist would identify, but that’s a big one.
The intervention of exercise when it comes to chronic pain influences these objectives:
Postural changes; not allowing the muscles to behave as if they are in pain
Achieving more range of motion; again, not letting the muscle tissue stay guarded and contracted
Length/tension relationships; building strength where appropriate
The head forward, rounded shoulder case will typically have a tight chest and therefore a decent amount of strength there by virtue of the positioning. Does chest strength matter to a Kinesiologist at this point? No. Creating mid-back strength to open the chest and complimenting that with chest stretches is more appropriate. This is one simple example of imbalances that Kinesiologists will deal with regarding chronic pain. Body positioning is huge! It’s becoming more and more appreciated but I still often see it overlooked. If your body is able to achieve non guarded movements and utilizing postural muscles appropriately, a reduction of pain is possible.
In other words, our brains can influence our movements but our movements can also influence our brains.
Once more and more movements are not guarded or accommodated, we notice over time that overall muscle tension goes down. Guard perpetuates more guard. If someone is still in pain but has learned to un-guard, it’s only a matter of time before the overall pain will subside. Clients often comment on how the pain doesn’t wake them at night or get them down as much. Longer term posture training will continue to have benefit. At this point, clients will say that they barely notice it and they are able to return to their old lives. I often hear that the area still feels different but they aren’t bothered by it because it’s a huge improvement from where they were.
The big take-away that I want to emphasize is to never stop working on your posture. Injured or not, the brain will read the body positioning. Know that working on your posture will help you feel better regardless if you suffer from an injury but ESPECIALLY if you are suffering from an injury or any type of pain for that matter.