September 2016 Newsletter
Life is back to normal for me after a crazy last two months, which culminated in getting sick (I'm better now), which is a big relief.
This month, I'm going to talk about "normal", as it relates to posture, movement and pain.
[I talk about this a lot on Snapchat by the way]
Let's start with a premise: if something is common, it doesn't make it normal.
The most striking example is obesity. Obesity is extremely common in Australia, and the prevalence is rising. This does not make it normal.
Now, if we translate this to posture, movement and pain, we can see that:
Most people consult with me because they are experiencing pain, and they want to get rid of "it".
- Postural adaptations are common, but they are also normal - the idea of an "ideal" posture is incorrect. There are more and less efficient postures, but they are task/activity dependent.
- Movement ability is generally poor across the majority of the population. In other words, poor movement is common. This is not normal - we should have fundamental movement ability throughout our life.
- Pain is common, and it is normal. However, chronic pain is also common, and you could make the argument this is not normal, especially as the incidence of chronic pain sufferers is rising, leading to the conclusion that certain factors have changed, leading to the increase.
Unfortunately pain is not a thing you have. It is an experience you go through. This misunderstanding is a fault of the English language, which turns verbs into nouns.
When you consider pain as a verb, an active process, you start to see that you play a role in your pain experience.
You influence your experience via your thoughts, your behaviours and your chosen environment(s).
If we look at the above 3 topics: posture, movement and pain, we can see that all 3 are dynamic, inter-related processes.
We can take pain, and see that it influences both posture and movement, but that posture and movement also influence pain (please note, I did not say CAUSE).
With that knowledge, we can use different interventions to alter each process, which will also alter each other.
So, when you are *experiencing* pain, instead of trying to get rid of "it", you can try and change some of the other processes related to pain (HINT: everything in your life can affect your pain).
With mechanical pain (pain related to movement or position), the two biggest influences are, you guessed it, movement and position (posture).
By changing your movement, both in the short term, to relieve discomfort, and in the long term, to improve efficiency, you present a new stimulus to the dynamic process that is pain. Often, this is enough to change, or relieve pain.
Additionally, almost instinctively, when we experience pain we avoid provocative postures, but few people pay attention to their habitual postures throughout their life. Again, a simple shift in awareness, followed by a change to your actions can be the difference between frequent bouts of mechanical pain and the alternative - a relatively pain free life.
If you've read up to this point, well done, re-conceptualising things is tricky at best, our brain provides lots of resistance to the unfamiliar, in an effort to keep us "comfortable".
To recap, here's what you need to consider:
- Common isn't necessarily normal.
- Pain is an experience or process.
- We have to actively alter this experience.
- We can do this via movement and position.
- This newsletter is only scratching the surface, there's also a host of emotional and psychological factors involved with pain, especially the chronic variety.
Latest From The Blog
This week, I was finalising a post that had topped out at 2200 words and when I clicked "save draft" it didn't, and logged me out of my blog and I lost the final editing and referencing.
Long story short, I only have the two posts to share, but they are both pretty good, so I can pat myself on the back for that:
The Truth About "Muscle Imbalances"
Brain Training That Works
Updates From The Clinic
Next month will mark 2 years of Integrative Osteopathy, so I hope to have something cool to celebrate.
In the meantime, I'm re-working the structure of my website, to make it a little more user friendly (I have a proper blog page now, with posts appearing chronologically). Part of the restructure will be to provide better links to valuable resources, so let me know if there is anything you'd like to know more about.
Finally, I'm doing a workshop next weekend titled "Advanced Program Design for Training Preparation and Recovery" - I'm sure I'll learn something useful, the two presenters have 50 years of experience training and treating general population and elite athletes alike.
As always, I look forward to sharing the benefits with you - hopefully there are better ways to enhance recovery than freezing yourself in an ice bath (which is probably more placebo than anything based on recent research).
Until next time, stay healthy.