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Aches and Pains?

Aches and pains? It may be less about what we’re doing and more about what we’re not doing.

Too often we resort to blaming a specific event for our nagging aches and pains. Although one event can sometimes be the cause of the initial onset of pain, oftentimes it persists because of what we are choosing to do or (more likely) not do with our bodies. Below are four thoughts I have on this:

1.) Be mindful of our collective postures and movements throughout the day. There is no “good” or “bad” posture per say, but too much of anything can be detrimental. Every so often, move and/or change positions.  

2.) Oppositional movement. Our bodies are meant to move at the full ranges of motions at every joint and joint angle. However, we are extremely adaptable beings… which can sometimes work against us. If we spend too much time in one joint position, our bodies will mold and can become “stuck” into that position. Fortunately, this adaptability works both ways. If we spend all day hunched over, spend some time in extension. If we spend all day rotated one way, rotate the other way. Over time, our tissues will mold into their original forms, making natural movement (like walking, squatting, etc.) smoother and more comfortable. 

3.) Less isolation, more synchrony. From our collective postures and sedentariness, certain muscles can become idle and weak. A common approach is to isolate these neglected muscles, but there may be a more effective way to build strength (there are, of course, exceptions - most notably with rehab). Instead of approaching it from a segmental standpoint, try a more holistic approach. Everything in the body moves as a unit, with one muscle group effecting the next. Sub the bicep curl for a full body TRX row or the leg extension for a squat. This will retrain the body to move as one. 

4.) Use discomfort as feedback. Pain is simply a warning signal interpreted by our brain. Oftentimes we judge our discomfort with feelings of frustration and resent, which can sometimes exacerbate what we are feeling. Try approaching the pain from an outside perspective in an attempt to figure out what may be causing it and ways in which we can help diminish it. 

5.) Consider other life factors. There is truth is that we can physically hold mental/emotional stress in our bodies in the form of tension. Studies have shown that depressed individuals adapt to a more “hunched over” position, while anxious individuals adapt to a more extended, fight or flight posture. Mental checkpoints throughout the day can help us be mindful of how we are feeling and how our bodies are responding to said feelings. 

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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