I went to a pain management workshop last week. It was a free workshop and even though I wasn’t sure if I would get much out of it I decided to sign up for it anyway. For some reason I always seem to have pain. Sometimes it’s a lot, other times it’s just a little, but it’s rare that I don’t have any pain. It’s not always in the same spot and seems to just move around my body every day, week, month or year. It seems as though if I’ve had pain from an injury or ‘just because’ it never completely goes away. I usually just learn how to do things differently so that I don’t aggravate that injured body part. So, that is why I decided that maybe a pain management workshop could be good for me.
The workshop had some helpful information. I’ll try to summarize some of the more important points and the points that I found interesting.
Basically pain needs to be treated through the physical body, the thoughts and the emotions or feelings. They stressed that pain is real and not made up. Even if there does not seem to be a reason for the pain it doesn’t mean that a person is making it up or isn’t actually experiencing the pain. There are 3 types of pain: acute (burn, cut, headache…), chronic (arthritis, MS, IBS…) or chronic pain syndrome (fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, psychosomatic conditions…). A few points stood out to me as the guy was talking. One had to do with how we experience and deal with pain. He mentioned that if someone has an area that is really painful they may not notice another area of less pain until the more painful area has started to heal. He also gave examples of how we can distract ourselves from the pain. I immediately thought about how there have been times that I have injured myself and been bruised or bleeding and didn’t even notice it until I was finished what I was doing. This can happen a lot while riding a horse. You are so busy thinking about what you are doing that you don’t realize that you are injured. There have also been many times that I’ve had a sore area on my body that has made me forget or not notice a less sore area.
He also mentioned that often we will baby an injury long after it should be healed. You get used to not using that part of your body and when you do try to use it it causes pain. The result is that you find other ways of doing things so that you won’t have to experience that pain. There is no longer any reason that you should not be able to use that body part since the injury has had plenty of time to heal but yet you continue to treat it as though it’s injured simply because there is still pain. Sometimes you need to push through the pain a little in order to increase your strength or range of motion. It’s important to be careful to not do too much so that you don’t end up getting reinjured or being too sore to do anything for the next week or more.
These are things that I’ve been considering for the past week or two. I’ve been doing more since joining the gym and the result is that I have more pain. I started doing strengthening exercises for one of my problem areas. I have previously gone through a rehab program for that injury and I know which muscles need to be strengthened. When the other problem area started to hurt I stopped going to the class that aggravated it because I was scared that it would keep getting worse. After going to this workshop I decided that I should start going back to the class but that I should just be very careful to strengthen without doing too much. I’m becoming more aware of my body and how much it can handle. I’ve also tried modifying some things so that I can still build strength without causing harm. When the pain gets worse I’m going to try to remember that it’s not so bad that I couldn’t distract myself from it.
Another important thing that I took away from the workshop is that it is best to learn how to deal with the pain on your own rather than depending on others to ease the pain. It would be better for me to exercise, stretch and use my foam roller and/or tennis ball regularly instead of going to physio or massage or one of the many other services that are out there. I’m not saying that these things aren’t helpful or good but they shouldn’t be relied upon above all else. I have become somewhat dependant on massage. It’s the one thing that consistently seems to ease my pain. After taking this workshop I started to think about all the money that I could save if I was more disciplined with my stretching and foam rollering. Now, I’m back to the whole discipline thing again. 🙂
Well, those are some of my thoughts on pain. I have to say that today I’m feeling some pain but most of it is good pain. I love the feeling of having sore muscles because you’ve pushed yourself through your exercising. I did two classes at the gym yesterday followed by a 45 minute interval run. Today I did one class followed by a 40 minute easy run. My body is pleasantly sore. Tomorrow I haven’t decided what to do yet. I’ll probably just do a spinning class in the morning because I’m helping a friend move in the afternoon. The moving should be a decent workout on its own. Saturday I won’t have time to work out at all. I have to work for a few hours in the morning and then I’m attending a hangar session at the drop zone about canopy flight and emergency procedures. I need all the help that I can get under the canopy. I love the skydiving right up until the point that I have to land and then it freaks me out. I think that I’m starting to get a little more comfortable with it but even all the new guys that started this year are already better than me.