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Katieby Katie Barnes

Finding Awareness to Alleviate Pain

Do you have aches and pains that come and go or just pain in specific areas that never seem to improve or disappear, despite treatment? Some discomfort from workout progressions are a normal part of a balanced exercise regimen but when pain is not the result of accident trauma or an injury from overtraining, you may want to think beyond applying chiropractic, acupuncture or massage treatments as the only cure. If you are treating the pain without correcting the source, you may instead be stuck with an ongoing cycle of pain, healing by superficial treatments and drugs only to return to the same (and sometimes additional), pain experience.

Repetitive, unconscious actions fill our lives from the moment we wake, from speaking to walking, to dressing to driving. Common examples of repetitive pain include carrying a heavy bag on the same shoulder all day at school; getting down on the same knee or getting up on the same foot; twisting to pick up a child with the same side of the body; sleeping in the same stance or on the same arm; reaching up to a high shelf with the same shoulder hiked up or back arched too far; leaning into a mirror on one hip to apply makeup; kneeling while gardening and putting pressure into knees, wrists and hips.

One unconscious source of pain may come from the simple act of driving. The hips and back can be affected by poor seat position, slumped posture, road stress and the effects of long hours of sitting in traffic then traveling up into the neck and shoulders.

When you hold the wheel, do you drive with one arm more than other? How do you get in and out of the car? Notice if one leg or foot is placed differently and whether one takes more weight or strain while balancing, pushing off, or stepping up stairs.

Do you bend down and twist your torso without bending your knees? Can you turn your head without turning your whole body? Our life activities are well-practiced, ingrained habits and may feel natural and unconscious to us but chances are that many recurrent neck, back, shoulder and hip problems may be coming from the simple movements you do each day.

Start by taking an inventory of your tasks and behaviors, where simple actions are repeated throughout the day or where you are forced into a fixed posture over time. This may include things like sitting at a desk too long or carrying several loads of laundry up and down stairs. Find ways to break any patterns you notice by performing the activity using the other side of the body, seeing if there is a better way to perform the movement, or stretching at regular intervals to interrupt stiffness and cramping that can often be the signal to the onset of your “chronic” pain.

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