Dealing with chronic pain, as hard as it is, you Gotta Keep Moving.
Is this you or somebody you know? You’ve found a comfortable position in your favorite chair. After what seems like hours, it’s a position that your body has finally adjusted to. Now that you’re in a less painful position, you’re wondering if you really want to get up. Getting up means that you will have to move. Moving is the last thing that you want to do right now.
When you’re having to work with chronic pain, it’s very easy and extremely temping to want to take it easy and not want to move much, if at all. When you do move, it’s not simply a matter of deciding to get from one place to another. Movement takes effort. And, this effort to move includes engaging your body, mind and emotions. To move or not to move, that is the question. The problem with not moving is that it causes the body –joints and muscles to both figuratively and physically lock in place. The body–joints and muscles, needs movement in order to stay “lubricated” and nourished.
Without lubrication and nourishment, the body, like any other living thing, begins to decay and wither. That is the same for emotional and mental joints and muscles. As mentioned earlier, one aspect of keeping the body moving is that you also have to keep your mind and emotions moving. Sometimes getting the mind to tell the body to move and getting your emotions to engage a different emotion in spite of the pain can be the biggest hurtle, because it simply hurts to move.
For me the discipline of moving takes the form of doing various aspects of the katas or the pre-arranged fighting forms that I learned while training in martial arts. At times, the limit of the exercise might simply be moving slowly performing the first three to five movements of the first form in a kata. In executing the form, my focus is on breathing, body alignment and full movement. Speed and power aren’t a serious consideration.
Just being able to stand up straight and then be able to stand up straight with my body and head in correct alignment can be major accomplishments. It takes will power and an extra amount of controlled breathing to maintain a relatively good stance and still relax.
Breathing is vitally important, because the natural tendency is to be tense. Tenseness gives an impression of pain relief. When in pain, the body naturally wants to be in “flight or fight” mode and the body acts accordingly. Learning to overcome that tendency and be in what’s known as a state of “relaxed readiness” takes a lot of repeated effort. It’s that repeated effort which helps me to keep my mind and emotions moving....and when I’m successful, it allows me to de-stress while moving my body.
Once I start moving, my body starts to feel better. Feeling better is a matter of degrees and varies from day to day or on really bad days, hour to hour. The challenge during the times when I’m feeling better is in finding the point where I’m able to do a little more without overdoing it.
Sometimes, old habits kick in and I start thinking that my body is fine; that it’s okay to move into some harder, more “real” training. Unfortunately, there has been those times when I literally lost my mind, started trying to incorporate full speed and power into the moves or techniques and really paid for it.
I found out the hard way that when the payment comes due, it comes fast and it comes mercilessly. Yes, you gotta keep moving, but you don’t want to move yourself back to the medicine cabinet and definitely not back to the doctor’s office. You gotta keep moving, but you don’t want to hear the words, “What did you do?”
So, keep it moving, but keep it moving with wisdom, moderation and patience.....