• leeweston9

In pain & need some relief? What can you do to self-manage discomfort?

The general rules of thumb are to break the cycle of aggravating factors and to implement more relieving factors to reduce pain and discomfort. Then, it is to build up the bodies capacity to deal with what we, and life, throw at it. Within this, we must be keenly aware that pain isn’t just a physiological construct of cause and effect (pain = damage) but it can be influenced by psychological and social factors too. If you’re interested in this further, then check out my earlier blog on pain. However, if it’s an acute injury, severe pain or you are concerned by its range of symptoms, then it is advised you seek medical advice before attempting the following.

Below are a few key steps you can explore to get yourself out of self-perpetuating pain cycle:

1. Reduce pain and increase range of movement through gentle activity

This sounds counter intuitive, but humans are designed to move and normally our bodies respond well to gentle movement when in discomfort. If you have a sore neck or back, try gentle movement, such as walking, cat cow, a seated or laying (on your back) pelvic tilt, moving in and out of child’s pose. Movement is medicine; if we can expose the sensitive tissues to “normal” movement slowly we can reduce the perceptions of threat to the tissues. Everyone will be different and so requires some trial and error but try to do this in an environment you are relaxed, within an activity you enjoy (possibly yoga or swimming etc), that you feel safe to explore the uncomfortable movements and work through them. It is ok to work through discomfort of 3/4 out of 10 but not to push past 6/7 out of 10 as there may not be benefit to this. You may find that heat is relieving too, like a hot bath, hot water bottle or wheat bags, especially for chronic (persistent) pain. Within this stage is where soft tissue therapy can hugely help via a hands on approach to help de threaten painful stimuli and start to open the doors to an increased range of movement with less pain.

2. Slowly increase your strength and proprioception (control)

Once you have gained some increases in movement, and it may not be completely pain free, we want to try to improve the strength of the tissue. This will increase the stability and quality of movement and make the tissues more robust, resilient, and less likely to be fatigued, strained or overloaded potentially causing the discomfort in the first place. Look to build in some strength work in simple exercises like squats, bridges, shoulder retractions, band rows, step ups or step downs. Start off simple and try to do ~50 repetitions per week of some simple exercises. Split this down into reps and sets that work for you. E.g. 6 reps x 4 sets twice a week of banded rows to help with mid back pain an office worker maybe experiencing.

3. Improve functional specific capacity leading to performance, if required.

This phase may, or may not, be as important to some but, all the same, it is vital to build capacity and make the strength more functional to daily living activities or sporting tasks. Slowly exposing yourself to the aggravating factors allows your body to respond and further increase strength so you will not become injured or in discomfort again. It may not indefinitely prevent it, but it will certainly go a long way to reducing the likelihood. So, this could be looking to see what you are doing day to day and trying to strengthen the body ready to deal with these demands. For example, lifting a child and carrying them daily on one hip; this is a relatively new and ever-changing load on the body so it is key to calm the sensitive tissues down (step 1), build strength (step 2) and then replicate the aggravating factor by slowly exposing the body to it. This could be doing a suitcase squat (holding a weight just on one side) or jerry can carry to replicate the body being loaded on one side. This will allow the body to gain strength and become more resilient.

Need some hands-on help? Not sure you can do it yourself?

All of these steps are vital in recovery from painful and uncomfortable muscular issues and sometimes you need a more hands on approach to help with step 1, and guidance through step 2 & 3. So, seeing a soft tissue therapist for an appointment to help you implement the above is beneficial as you get hands on manual therapy, massage, putting the body into a ‘feel good’ state in the process. If you are interested in how I work with a range of soft tissue techniques from, holistic to specific massage modalities in my soft tissue practices then book a free consultation by contacting lee@thrivesouthwest.co.uk, 07890632948 or checking out my website (www.thrivesouthwest.co.uk ) for more information and book online.

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