Updated: Oct 6, 2022
I just had an a-ha moment today on chronic pain. Playing on words, I saw chronicity as "chronic-city". It dawned on me that chronic pain is likened to staying put in the same spot, being in situ without a plan to move out of the physical pain. Isn’t that similar to living in that state and embracing all that comes within? Like a choice made to live in "chronic-city".
But what's more important that I want to bring across is, you can step out of the "chronic-city".
“Pain is a gift, but suffering is a choice.” - This is something I advocate and I was being challenged recently
There are many variations of this liner if you run a search on Google. But stay with me here as I explain the concept, and I would like to invite you to imagine living life without a pain signal. We wouldn’t know the difference between hot or cold, neither could we tell what’s prickling us if we step on sharp surfaces. Isn’t pain a gift if it protects us? Given we feel these pain signals but choose to continue to do the very thing that pain us, isn’t that a choice we made for ourselves?
So, back to chronic pain, how do we choose to step out of chronic pain? Here are the Top 3 most important elements to get you out.
1. An unwavering desire and belief
You must first want to. You must first believe you can. Your desire and belief combined together will lead you to seek out a therapist or movement specialist to work alongside you to walk you out of the chronic pain. Short of saying you need a vision for yourself, you need to set small steps, even baby steps, towards that goal.
Many of the cases with chronic pain complain of pain in the shoulder, butt, lower back, knee, wrist or a combination of a few areas. Most would think that with ageing, these pains are part and parcel of your life. Wrong! So wrong! You don’t have to wake up to pain in your body.
I had a client who came for the sessions without the family knowing. The client’s spouse felt that pain is normal at their age and would think it was ridiculous to address the pain. The spouse believes that one should continue to live in the "chronic-city" and just deal with it. If you are the one experiencing the pain, it is only wise to listen to your body and address the pain. Evidence has shown, one can step out of chronicity.
2. Partner with someone who challenges you out of your comfort zone
This year, I have mainly worked on clinical cases on a one-on-one basis. A number of these have been in chronic pain due to varying factors. Everyone, literally each one of them, came through the studio door unsure of what they can get out of a clinical Pilates session. Yes, everyone confessed it was difficult, but they witnessed for themselves first-hand how amazing their bodies can be when they moved without pain.
There’s so much inhibition to start off: fear of pain, fear of re-injury, fear of lost time and quality of life! The more we build up fear in our bodies, the more your muscles will be inhibited too.
With each session, the clients can see for themselves that they can challenge themselves a little more towards their goal. They can see clearly that they can do it!
I have one client who holds a high-ranking role at work and has a kyphotic posture, or better known as hunchback posture, for years. Walking in for the first time, the first question the client asked while pointing to the upper back: “Can it be solved?” I told the client, "Let's do it together". Yes together, we will know. At the end of the first session, the client was totally convinced it can be solved; not by one session, but through time, with set goals and changing wrong postural habits. The individual needs to accept the challenges and overcome them.
3. Diligence towards change - not weekly, but daily
I often tell my clients it took us decades to be where we are today. To un-do some habits, we need time and patience with ourselves. There is no magic pill, but you can do magical things to your body by your daily effort in your homework. Yes, homework is so important for recovery.
Imagine not doing anything between one session to the next, our innate nature will just fall back to what we are used to. And that is the very thing we need to un-do in order to unlock the pain-free zone.
So yes, homework is given and when adhered to, I can see a remarkable difference in the pace of recovery for that individual. Every effort pays off!
I have experienced it myself - the joy of stepping out of "chronic-city". To be able to stand here before you to say with a resounding yes to a pain-free life. Of course, the journey could be a battle between your mind and your body. You want to, but it’s too hard! Again, we go back to the Top 3 tips above.
Surely it feels like the experience when you are nicely balanced on a stand-up paddle - there's a total mind-body connection to keep you on the board, and not in the waters, while you paddle on.
If you are in any sort of pain and have a burning desire to address it, don’t battle it on your own. There are communities out there who can work with you.
Our bodies are amazing and it will take you, and only you, to bring the best out of it. Reach out if you have a question on pain related issues and that’s the start of your baby step forward.