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I’ve been getting worked on, why am I still in Pain?
As a body worker for the last couple of decades, I’ve asked myself this question often and contemplated the different pain scenerios I’ve seen in my practice. There are a number of reasons why people don’t get to the other side of pain either during or immediately after a session or within a couple of regularly scheduled sessions as will be discussed below.
Most often people are in less pain after a body work session and with regular appointments continue to feel better. There are those folks whose bodies take a couple of days to integrate, and after a day or two will feel that sense of wellbeing that generates the comment “This is why I got worked on”. I, myself, have had this experience intermittently though most often I simply feel better after a session. ( I tend to attribute the other experience to not getting worked on often enough). I’ve even, occasionally, come out of a session feeling worse than when I went in. Such sessions, however, have always been a catalyst for feeling better and better with following sessions.
So why do people end up in pain even after some time of being worked on regularly? There are a number of reasons. It may be that there is an underlying problem that can’t be addressed by body work. For instance, if someone has lyme disease body work is only going to mitigate the discomfort, it isn’t going to cure it. If hormones are out of balance that is another situation where body work will help but probably won’t get rid of it (some bodywork – Visceral Manipulation, works with the organs and may help with this). If a person is taking specific prescription drugs that cause muscle ache bodywork will help but won’t take care of the problem.
The kind of bodywork one receives makes a difference. If you are receiving massage and what you need is muscle balancing then it will help but not cure. If you are in need of lymphatic drainage to reverse edema or manage lymphedema but are not receiving it then again it won’t change it. If you need adhesion work because you have had surgery, or inflammation or been ill with an inflammatory sickness, have sustained many injuries to your tissues, have been in a car accident, don’t get enough exercise, and, hence, have many adhesions – meaning that your muscles and organs cannot properly slide over one another, causing chronic strain to some of your muscle fibers, attachments and organs but are only receiving muscle balancing or massage then the results will not be 100%.
Another issue may be that you should have received bodywork far sooner than when you started with it and hence it is going to take time for your body to catch up. For instance, one woman I’ve been working with for a good two years waited so long to come in that she was unable to sleep at night due to chronic muscle ache, her hands and limbs were numb from impinged nerves and her upper spine was severely kyphotic. She was diagnosed with carpal tunnel and her surgeon wanted to operate. Fortunately she opted out of that proposed solution and turned to alternative medicine and specifically to bodywork. Happily she no longer has numbness or achiness or any remnant of the diagnosed carpal tunnel and her kyphosis is much less severe. After a year and a half of working with her I remarked “Where your body is at now is when most people come in to see me.” Don’t misunderstand, surgery and drugs do have their place, it is a matter of discovering what the appropriate solution is for the problem at hand.
So don’t be discouraged but assess what may also be necessary other than what you are already doing. A Naturopath may be part of your solution, for instance, or getting off sugar or improving your self-talk or getting more exercise. Invariably, when we feel lousy there is not only one solution but rather a series of solutions that require us to become more and more familiar with what helps us to feel well and to strive to include that in our life. Wellness is a process with often a whole combination of solutions that we need as a regular part of our existence in order for our life to work well and for us to feel well in our life.
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Ann Watkins is owner of New Harmony Therapeutic Massage and Somatic Bodywork. She has been in private practice since 1988 and has studied numerous forms of bodywork with her primary focus being postural correction and chronic pain. She also holds a Masters in Dance Movement Therapy. Copyright Jan. 2012
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