How to Get Rid of that Pain Cycle Once and For All!
Allow me to paint you a picture:
You find yourself in pain, or maybe it’s not pain but there’s something uncomfortable limiting you. Maybe you’re trying to hit a new PR in the weight room or adding distance to your run or cycling and you get stopped in your tracks. Maybe it’s that quarterly back pain episode, or the problem that pops up every year when you start gardening, or the pain that you get everytime you walk uphill.
The bad news - it’s annoying and frustrating. The good news - you know what to do.
You see who you need to see for that treatment or adjustment, or you do what you need to do to get things to calm down. Things start to feel better and you get back into the swing of things while crossing your fingers that it doesn’t come back!
Maybe it’s a bit of a mystery to you why it keeps coming back even though you keep taking care of it. But you put that to the back of your mind, not eager to play detective and keep wishing and hoping that it doesn’t come back. You may even become resigned to the fact that this is just how things are and tell yourself this is just how things are as you get older.
Have I hit the nail on the head?
If I have, it’s not because I’m a mind reader or have special insight into your life. It’s because it’s a story I hear from clients all the time, and I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be this way.
You don’t have to feel worse as you get older, and you can get rid of that pain or pain cycle even if it’s been around for years. I know this because it’s what I help clients do. I help them get out of that pain-relief-pain cycle.
How do I do that you ask? By using Yoga Therapy.
Yoga therapy (which does not necessarily involve yoga poses), is an approach to movement that addresses the underlying patterns, compensations, habits and mechanics that are contributing to your pain and issues. More often than not it is these underlying patterns and habits that keep us in the pain-relief-pain cycle. These compensations and habits may have started as a way to get you through day to day life after an injury, or have been developed so you can do what you need to do day to day, but if pain is now at play, they’re no longer serving you.
For example when I was training (very diligently) for my first half marathon, I’d never done a race so I was pretty scared of not being able to finish. So I was horrified when 4 weeks before race day, after my first 15 km run, I ended up with some pretty extreme hamstring pain and then wasn’t able to run more than 2 km without pain.
With the help of a physiotherapist, I realised that one of the things contributing to my pain was my gait. I did a little kick outwards with each step, which until I did that first 15 km, didn’t cause a problem. It’s something I’d NEVER even noticed before. But this little kick out became exaggerated as I fatigued, and as it got bigger a cascade of compensations came into play. Once I was aware of it, I was able to address it. I could feel when it would happen in my runs, so I was able to adjust.
Part two was then improving my movement patterns with exercises so that I could run further and further distances without this “break down” in my gait pattern. It was about more than just strengthening my hamstrings. It was about supporting my body in a way so that it didn’t need to do that little kick out anymore.
When we actually address the problem that IS and build new patterns we can avoid the cycle of pain - relief - go back to normal - end up back in pain.
As a yoga therapist I use movement, stillness, and breath to help clients grow their awareness, address the issue (the real root issue!), retrain their bodies (and sometimes minds), and then grow stamina around new patterns that support them in feeling their best and doing all the things you want to do. This is what helps people say BYE BYE to that pain-relief-back to normal-pain again cycle.
As we clean up movement patterns and address the compensations that are dragging you down things clear up, and people start to feel better. Along the way, you gain the awareness to intervene earlier and earlier as things start to slide which means you’re less likely to end up in that feeling really crappy place.
The awareness, retraining, and growing stamina around new patterns are KEY steps, and yet they’re the pieces that people most often give up on. They stop doing their exercises as soon as they feel better. They don’t address the patterns that got them into trouble in the first place, because they temporarily feel better, and then think it no longer needs to be addressed.
Though that initial fix gets you relief, if you go back to doing the same things in the same way, you’re probably going to end up right back where you were! And I’m not saying any of those external temporary fixes are bad - they’re not, and you may need that hit of relief before you can even address what got you there. We need the things that give us relief - thank goodness they exist. But if you truly want to get out of that cycle you need to address compensations, retrain patterns, progress those patterns and then build stamina around them!
It’s work, but it’s sooo worth it when you can stop the pain cycles dead in their tracks, or start intervening more effectively before they stop you in yours.
And by the way - yoga therapy can also be part of the relief part, the decreasing pain part (as can Physiotherapy, Osteopathy & Massage therapy), AND it can get you to the place where the pain cycle is a distant memory.
Interested in exploring more? Watch the video below for two movements I like to do with clients to start growing awareness.
Ready to get to the root of what’s going on? I’m here to help. Call the clinic and book in your appointment with me (Tamara Cormier, Registered Kinesiologist/Certified Yoga Therapist.
Written by Tamara Cormier,Registered Kinesiologist/Certified Yoga Therapist