Or maybe you used a different word as you stubbed your toe in the dark.
If you stub your toe, you know why your toe hurts. But the pain that makes your day to day life more difficult is usually from a less obvious cause.
For many people, there was no single incident that started their pain. The joint just began to hurt and continued to get worse until it was a constant issue.
If there was an injury that started the pain, often the pain continues long past the injury healing.
Pain becomes chronic because the issues that cause it are below the surface. Chronic pain may start months or years before you really notice it. Thankfully, however, there are ways to go back and unwind the issue from its source so you can get back to moving with ease.
There are basically two underlying causes of persistent pain. The first is asymmetry and the second is an up-regulated nervous system.
Asymmetry– basically speaking, asymmetry means that your body has become unbalanced. Perhaps you are stronger on the right than you are on the left. Or perhaps the muscle on the back is stronger than its corresponding muscle on the front.
Our bodies are stunning examples of complex systems that work together to do amazing things. However, small injuries, or ingrained habits that favor one side over another can create imbalances.
Nervous System– our bodies are either in a state of rest or in they are in an up-regulated state of fight-flight-freeze. Starting off the morning with an alarm clock buzzing followed by hurrying to get out the door for the day’s full schedule keeps modern people in a consistently up-regulated state.
Many people have trouble falling asleep at night and one common reason is because we spend so much time performing that we are out of practice when it comes to letting the body relax. Think of your dog or cat as an example. These pets spring into action if they are alarmed. They immediately up-regulate their state to respond to a possible threat. Afterwards, however, they go right back to relaxing.
In contrast to our pets, we move out the door in the morning in a frenzy and spend the whole day attempting to get as much done as possible. Constant performance without giving ourselves the chance to calm down and operate from a relaxed state.
What to Do
Hopefully the discussion above about the nervous system and asymmetry help you feel better about your past efforts to alleviate your pain. Addressing only the surface problem will never resolve the underlying issue on its own.
Treating asymmetry is best done with a professional trained in spotting the subtle details. It can be hard to notice that one femur is more internally rotated than the other without some experience.
You can, however, start noticing when you perform an action differently on one side as opposed to the other. Awareness is the place to begin. Look for some of the signs of asymmetry:
- Chronic pain in the same place
- Uneven wear pattern on your shoes
- Standing more on one leg than the other
- Feeling pulled to one side
When it comes to the nervous system, there are so many ways that a stressed system may show up. I will list a few common symptoms:
- Noticeably having less patience than normal
- Startling more easily than usual
- Feeling anxious
At The Movement Studio TRE (Tension & Trauma Release Exercises) and PRRT (Primary Reflex Relief Technique) make up the core of relieving built up stress on the nervous system.
One of the simplest things you can do throughout the day to help your body relax is to simply focus on your exhale. Take a deep belly breath and then purposefully exhale every last bit of breath from you lungs. Take a few breaths with this focused exhale as often as you can throughout the day.
The more you prioritize allowing your nervous system to calm down the more you will be able to sense when you are wound up. Pick one or several things from the list above and add in your own calming activities.