A little web research indicates that the expression ‘no pain no gain’ has very early origins. As a spiritual lesson: without the pain in doing what God asks, there is no gain; and as an axiom to support early industry (via Ben Franklin’s persona Poor Richard). In my own case, however, these words have come to mean something more related to my physical well-being.
I’ve been working on a painful issue that has made life somewhat miserable for me. I believe the origins of the issue were in sitting too long (yes, I’ve read the articles “sitting is the new smoking”) and in constricted positions. I love sitting cross-legged curled up in my chair and typing away with a kitty on my lap. It’s just plain one of my favorite ways to craft lovely writing and the kitty likes it too!
Still I would do this for hours at a time when I was in that creative zone and letting the thoughts slide through my tapping fingers and onto the screen. So, it’s clear to me that I caused the initial damage, but what happened after, as I tried to heal, is a different story.
I started with massage therapy – a lovely place to start when your hip and inner thigh muscles lock up and you are hobbling upon standing up. No kidding, I am/was looking like a really, really old lady. I’m nearing the mid-life range and not really interested in hopping hobbling that far down the bunny path that fast. I would literally stand up after sitting and be in so much physical pain that I’d have to slowly stand fully upright. My massage therapists – all of them over a year – said the same thing, variations of: “ … be gentle with yourself. Your body needs to heal. Stop if you feel any pain. Don’t go further. Wait. Rest.”
I believed them. I was gentle. I stopped bike riding because it was causing that area to clench and tighten. I stopped the stretches when there was any twinge of pain. I waited.
As the pain and stiffness continued to get worse, not better. I added physical therapy and heard the same thing: “… stop pushing it so hard, be gentle, stop when you feel any pain at all – don’t go further.”
All the while, I noticed that I was Not Getting Better. I talked about it with my guy and he noted times when he had locked and tight muscles that he had to push through the pain – no surprise – and I decided finally to go his route to heal.
We are pushing through the pain.
I take the exercises given to me by the physical therapist and I gently push to the limit, wait, then push further. I’m in tears a lot of the time because it really is painful, but here’s the wonder of it – it’s finally getting better.
I take the yoga poses that cause me pain in that area home with me and I move slowly into them to the point of pain, then go a little further, and a little further and I stay in the pose for many minutes and just about the time I’m ready to collapse, I feel that area release. That area will feel warm and tingly after and it is so open that you cannot imagine how good it feels. Does it tighten back up? Sure it does, but every time we start stretching again I start at a more open and less painful place.
Is medical science wrong?
I don’t know – how could I? What I can say, and it’s something I’ve learned and re-learned all my life, is this: we have to find ways to know our own bodies, be honest about what we are doing to and putting in our bodies, and find our own way to health. No medical pro can tell you what that is – you have to find it yourself.
Another thing? I’m completely convinced that the health issue I experienced over the summer is related to this tightness. Want to know how I know that? Because that issue is clearing up slowly and steadily the more I work on this other issue. It’s all related. Unhealthy in one place leads to unhealthy in others.