I was disrobed and lying under a sheet in immense amounts of disorienting pain. "Uggggghh," I moaned into the face rest as Jason, massage therapist extraordinaire, dug into my quad, "I seriously think I'm gonna throw up." I didn't. But, as the hour ticked on, Jason brought up the concept of emotions/traumatic events being trapped or stored in the body. It was the second time in two days that someone had told this to me after working on my legs.
Case of the Mondays and big break down. Jason had aggressively worked on the knots and ropes that live in my legs these days. During the week following that massage, I had felt increasingly worn out and distraught by work and (although not mentioned before) suddenly ever-present thoughts of an ex. Ok...let's be real...THE ex. I was surprised by the persistent haunting of our past relationship in my brainspace as I had thought I'd come to terms with it and moved on. For me, there was a lot of anxiety and emotional pain during our on-again-off-again, three-year relationship that ended last December (around the time my knee pain began with a vengeance). During the week-long haunting of relationships past, I cried more than I had in the previous six months, for no apparent reason. Following my most recent massage, I was inundated by thoughts of another, more ambiguous, loss from the last six months that continues to be a large source of confusion and sadness for me. Was this all a strange coincidence or something more?
With this new query, I struck out to learn a bit more and found there is significant research that links chronic pain (especially back, knee, and foot pain) to emotional trauma and stress, especially self-induced stress experienced by perfectionist types: hard-working, driven, conscientious, goal-oriented....sound familiar? There are conventional, physical ways to treat the pain: physical therapy, heat, ice, deep massage, exercise, all of which I've done pretty regularly for ten months with little or no results.
An article on the ProHealth website recommended "consistent application" of the following to decrease the "bad stress response" in the body:
- various relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, progressive relaxation, meditation, yoga and hypnosis
- positive thinking and recognition of the harmful effects of negative thinking (cognitive behavioral techniques)
- endurance (aerobic) exercise and stretching
- healthy eating (it is usually more important to focus upon overall healthy eating than upon avoidance of suspected food and dietary triggers)
- achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- obtaining adequate and restorative sleep
- avoiding unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, high demand/low control stressors, and social isolation
|Leave it on the mat.|
The 25 year old me would have read this post and pish-poshed it, thinking it silly, abstract, and ultimately a waste of time. Luckily, I am no longer 25 and am ready to investigate these strange, new, and unexplored areas of myself. I hope to get in a little yoga every morning, a chance to meditate, breathe, and accept myself as I am and let go of all the crud that I can. Maybe one day, when my knees have expunged my past and present pain and stress, I will again walk through life with the jaunty strut of the carefree.
What do you do to walk carefree?