Tag Archives: chronic pain

Got Chronic Pain? Treat Yourself Like an Athlete

I tell people that I’m pain-free, but that is, of course, a lie. “Yep, I’ve got feet flatter than a geometric plane, but no pain here!” I say this to encourage people to think differently about their personal body weirdness, but I’m covering up a terrible secret: Everybody hurts sometimes.

Hell, being a massage therapist is a game of “what weird new injury can I acquire this week?” It might be a funky shoulder, a thumb that doesn’t like it when you open jars, an ankle that doesn’t… you know, work.

This game might sound familiar to the athletes among us. Pushing yourself physically often results in weird little things going wrong, or sometimes weird big things. This happens to athletes all the time, but they tend to be little bumps in the road as they continue on toward their goal. ... continue reading.

Got Chronic Pain? It’s Time to Think Differently

I’m not here to say that your pain is all in your head… but it is literally, 100%, with no embellishment, all in your head. There’s no way around it. Everything is “just in your head.” That incredible three dimensional landscape in front of you? Constructed entirely in your head based upon the input of two tiny sheets of light-sensitive retina. All of those distinct objects that are so clear to you, like your computer monitor, or that oncoming car, or your dear mother’s face? All fabricated in post-processing by your team of faithful visual nuclei, all working together to make sense of the mishmash of light that smashes into our eyes (our ability to distinguish objects is an incredibly complex trick of the brain).

I’ve Got Some Upsetting News For You…

The rich green of the grass outside of your window, my friend, isn’t even fucking there. There is no “green.” We create color after we’ve processed the scene in front of us, giving different visual flavors to the wavelengths of light striking our eyes. Unable to distinguish between different wavelengths? Your brain fills in colors anyway, because your brain is incredible. I’m color deficient (“color blind”), but I never really notice it unless I pick the wrong crayon when coloring and people proceed to make fun of me. Hell, for all I know, my blue might be your chartreuse. ... continue reading.

Got Chronic Pain? It’s Time to Move Differently

If you’re in chronic pain, it’s easy to get frustrated with your own body. There are a lot of unanswered “whys,” like “why is this flaring up now? Why is this painful if there’s no new damage? Why is this ruining my life?” As weird as it may sound, the answer to most of these questions is that your body means well.

Imagine being a low back. Your purpose in life is to basically exist so that other, more important body parts can do their thing. You accept heavy loads for hours a day, you flex and extend for 30 minutes straight when your boss decides it wants to do “the thousand crunch challenge” (please tell me this doesn’t actually exist), and you generally just do your best.

The low back doesn’t have eyes or ears, and it doesn’t know much about the purpose behind your activities. It does, however, have a huge amount of nervous tissue (nerve endings and spinal cord sections devoted just to it). What does it do with all of that processing power? It listens. ... continue reading.

3 Rules To Reduce Chronic Pain

I was sedentary for the first, oh, 20 years of my life. My only exercise was lugging my backpack, dense as a neutron star, from class to class because I was too lazy to make the detour to my locker.

I had back pain. Good lord did I have back pain, and it was ever so mysterious.

Poor kid.

That’s me about 15 years ago, taking a “before” picture (I think I was planning to start lifting weights… didn’t happen). Please realize that I thought I was in a completely neutral stance, feet even, shoulders relaxed, etc., and please notice how completely I failed. One foot was forward, one hip was hiked, one arm was rotated inward, and my entire torso was displaced 2 inches to the left.

Our bodies do the best they can with the stimulus that we give them. While our brains have access to a ton of information, the body will get limited cues, such as “needs to walk short distances,” “needs to sit for long periods,” and “needs to occasionally haul heavy loads.” Based upon these inputs, our bodies adapt. Mine had decided that I needed to be shaped a certain way to meet the needs of playing lots of lots of video games. ... continue reading.