Body Sense

SPRING | 2016

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14 Body Sense something to ignore or something to work through. If applied to everyday life, this perspective of paying attention to your pain—initiated and reinforced in a massage session—could actually help prevent injury. Frank Chen, MD, of the Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation, explains: "Pain usually indicates a problem or potential underlying injury. You need to pay attention to the warning signs your body provides." 2 Then, you can take action to avoid the injury (e.g., stop exercising when your knee hurts). PAY CLOSER ATTENTION Not all musculoskeletal pain needs monitoring. Massage therapy can help you fi gure out which pain areas may need your attention. First, if you're getting a massage specifi cally for pain reduction, then the areas associated with your pain issues should be on your self-monitoring radar. In addition, you may want to pay attention to areas of your body that weren't tender until the therapist applied pressure. These areas may have been irritated before, but not enough that you noticed them. Outside the massage session, pay closer attention to pain that is recurrent, sudden and sharp, or results in a decreased range of motion or loss of strength. DON'T PAY THE PRICE It's time to rethink pain. When Jane Fonda said, "No pain, no gain," she was specifi cally referring to the act of fatiguing muscles in order to stimulate maximum muscle growth. But the reality is that working through and ignoring certain types of pain can be costly. An ankle injury while trying to lose weight means no aerobic exercise, which in turn makes reaching that ideal weight more diffi cult. Massage can help you become aware of your musculoskeletal pain. Once aware, you can take action to reduce or eliminate the pain. In addition, you can apply the self-monitoring lesson from the massage session to everyday life in order to avoid potential injury. Here's to less pain and more gain with your next massage! B S Notes 1. David B. Morris, "Belief and Narrative," The Scientist 19, Supplement 1 (March 28, 2005). 2. Frank S. Chen, "Prevention of Exercise and Sports- Related Injury, Part 2," accessed March 2016, Mark Liskey relies on his 23 years of massage experience to write about a wide range of topics. Find out more at When You're Too Aware Being aware of your pain is the fi rst step to reducing or eliminating it. However, being too aware of your pain could cause anxiety. Anxiety is further increased if you catastrophize—think that things are only going to get worse. For example, aggravating an old injury and dwelling on the traumatic memory of like being in acute pain for weeks is going to make you more anxious. If you fi nd yourself hyperfocusing on your pain, you can learn to pull back by asking yourself these questions: • How bad is the pain? • Do I need to stop whatever I'm doing right now? • Is it old or new pain? • If old, how did it resolve before? • If new, can I zoom in during the times it seems to get worse? Lastly, pat yourself on the back for a more balanced approach to self-monitoring.

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