Sometimes for me it is hard to watch people trying to walk as I can see the pain in their faces. It feels like they can barely put one foot in front of the other. They are seeing doctors, therapists, and taking pills to alleviate the pain, yet they look like they are in tremendous pain. How much of that pain is physical and how much is mental? Don’t misunderstand me, the pain is very real, but what is driving it?
How Does This Happen?
We have heard for years that the older you get the more you need to slow down. There is some truth to that if you look through the lens of the average person. As we age we lose muscle mass, that is a fact. As we lose muscle mass, it takes more energy to move like walking, lifting things, or climbing steps. That is the physical side.
On the mental side where the pain and the brain connect, we prepare ourselves for old age by watching older people when we were young and how they move, listen to what they say, and even listen to doctors about aging. What if we are mentally accepting old age as bad instead of seeing for what it is? It is true that the older we get, we cannot jump as high, run as fast, or lift as much, but what if, instead of slowing down and resting in the recliner, we began to do something about it. What if, we were able to maintain most of our strength and flexibility, wouldn’t we age differently?
How is Old Age Treated?
When dealing with any type of pain, most people start by taking over-the-counter pain killers. Over time they begin to become less effective, so we move on to a heated wrap, liniment, or cold wrap to reduce the inflammation. As that becomes less effective, we move on to a brace until the pain is just too much, then comes the injection. Finally, we give up our work, and/or hobby, thinking our body can’t take it anymore. These treatments are taken as if what you are doing has nothing to do with the cause of the pain. This seems to be the case in most injuries. What you are doing has everything to do with what you are feeling.
It is true that each of the above-mentioned treatments work for a little while, but there is a reason the pain keeps coming back and it is what you are doing, or not doing. The above treatment can reduce inflammation but does not release and soften the muscles. The lactic acid is building up in your muscles each and every time you use your body. Think of a bank account with compounding interest. Each day the interest grows and grows making your account larger and larger. Lactic acid works the same way. Just because you reduced the inflammation doesn’t mean you got rid of the true cause.
Each day you do your job, or hobby, you create more on top of what was already there. You are just running around in circles. Think of stretching like eating. No matter how much you eat today, you will be hungry tomorrow, right? You understand why you are hungry, so there is no question in your mind about why you are hungry. Could hunger be an old age thing? Neither are stiff muscles. I have seen too many older people soften up like young people, you just need to know how.
How do I Stop this Pain?
Mastering the pain and the brain is possible. Learning how to stop this pain is not difficult but will require you to un-learn a few things you have been told throughout your life. Let’s begin with the self-massage. We have either seen a massage therapist give a massage or we have had one. Self-massage is not like that at all. When doing self-massage, it is about the touch and not the rub. Using your thumb or fingers, whichever works best for you, press different locations on the front side of your body, one spot at a time. Feel for any pain or discomfort as you press. The temptation is to press harder to push the pain out. that is a mistake. If you press too hard, your brain will contract the muscle preventing it from softening. Press just hard enough that you can breathe and let the muscle relax. Keep testing spots all over the intended area. Rolling up and down your leg or back doesn’t work very well either. Just like pressing too hard, the brain will contract the muscle as the pain increases and the brain will not be able to let go of any one point.
Below are 2 stretches that you can practice just letting go of the tension in the muscle versus forcing a muscle to release. It is far less work and pain with a lot more results in a shorter period of time. Take your time and do not worry about how far you can go. As you let go from the brain, the body will move easier. Remember, you are teaching your brain a new safe in movement. Until the brain feels safe it will not let you make the move.
Stretching is not a form of torture. Many of us can remember high school PE classes and the pain we felt when trying to stretch our bodies. If you were stiff, you may have felt embarrassed and along with the pain, you promised yourself that after school you would never stretch again. This partly why you are as stiff as you are today. When you stretch the correct way, stretching should be relaxing and feel like a gentle massage. The best part is it will last so much longer.
Lubricate your Joints and Discs!
Stretching actually lubricates the joints and the discs in your spine. By moving your joints with stretching, it cause your body to inject a lubricant named “Synovial Fluid.” It works like WD40 for the body. The more you sit, the rustier you get. Think of an old car sitting in the garage for years. It may be a Ferrari, but it still a bucket of rust. Let’s take that Ferrari out for a ride and knock off that rust.
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About The Muscle Repair Shop
Drawing upon his personal experience as a former competitive athlete turned wheelchair, obese and chronic pain sufferer, Muscle Repair Shop Founder Butch Phelps decided to take his health into his own hands when at the age of 36 he was told he might not make it to his 40th birthday. Applying balanced nutrition advice from his doctor along with a sound exercise program, he went from 315 lbs. to 180 lbs. Motivated by his experience, he then acquired degrees in advanced therapeutic massage and aging sciences to help people eliminate chronic pain. This included applying his expertise in how people age, including the effects of dementia, anatomy, psychology, and the day-to-day struggles living as an older person to his practice and development of The Muscle Repair Shop’s one-of-a-kind Stretch n’ Release Technique.
Available through in-office and virtual coaching treatment sessions, this unique combination of stretching and breath work teaches the brain to release the emotional side of muscle tension and pain allows clients to find lasting relief and healing from stiffness, aches, injuries, and chronic pain. The at-home exercises come with customized instructional videos and virtual or in-office support, allowing clients to enjoy and experience life and sports as they did before limitations slowed or curtailed activities.