Most people are running away from all pain when, in fact, certain pain is a good thing. Tony Robbins commonly states, “Change occurs when the pain of staying where you are exceeds the pain of change.” Meaning change occurs when changing becomes less painful than continuing to do what you have been doing. This does not mean you are lazy. But for each of us, as long as we are getting what we want, we will not change. Pain is showing us we have something we need to change.
Life is Too Comfortable
We are the most comfortable of any generation before us. We push a button and things come to us. If we have a physical pain, there is a medication to stop the pain. The absence of pain does not mean you are healthy. Think about it this way. If you have a toothache and go to the dentist, would you be happy if they just numbed your mouth and stopped the pain? Or would you want them to solve the toothache? My guess is, you would prefer the latter. The same is true for other parts of your body.
Most buildings today have elevators and/or escalators, so we no longer have to walk up the stairs. We choose to park as close to the door of a store, so we don’t have to walk across the parking lot. Many people cannot walk up the stairs or walk any distance at all. It is not surprising that our joints have seized up. Our backs are compressed, and our weight has gotten out of control. Our bodies are screaming at us through pain.
Who or What is to Blame for Your Pain?
Many people believe that our medical system has failed them. We are blaming our medical system for our failures. Our medical system is designed to solve our symptoms, not the causes of the symptoms. The causes are coming from bad choices we have made throughout our lives. Our bodies need certain minerals and nutrients that we get from good food. Unfortunately, we have chosen the ease and convenience of fast foods, processed foods, and lack of movement.
We have evolved to live longer than we ever have before. The average human is living approximately 11 more years than our predecessors. Sadly, our healthy lifespan has only moved from 48 years to 49 years since 1962. Our goal now should be to live not only a longer life but a healthier one, as well. More than 70% of Americans are on some sort of medication. It is too easy to blame doctors, but the truth is, we are to blame. If you do not make the better choices, the doctors trying to save your life will prescribe medications to keep you alive.
What Could We Do Better?
What if we ate better, exercised more, lost weight, and began to enjoy our lives? We could reduce the use of medications by a large portion. The most common excuses are, it is hard to find good food, I don’t have time to exercise, or I can’t lose weight no matter what I do.
Think about a grocery store. What you see on the shelves are products that people buy. I can remember working in retail many years ago and store managers would say to me, we will try your product, but we’ll place it on the bottom shelf. If it sells, we will move it up to the middle shelf. If people buy my product, then he would place it where more people would see it. If not, he would call me to come pick it up. He did not care what he sold. All he cared about was selling products. This does not make him a bad guy, merely a businessman.
If you feel you don’t have the time in your schedule, then I would suggest looking at your schedule and delete things that are not productive. I needed more time in my schedule and I wasn’t willing to give up my time with my wife in the morning or evening. I decided to wake up at 4:30 am 3 days a week to go work out. This way I could work out, come back home, wake up my wife, and spend time with her before I go to work.
I am not saying you have ot do it my way, but think about taking 30 minutes twice a week to improve your body. It can be a good walk at a good pace to improve your heart. Maybe you like swimming, biking, tennis, or running. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you are moving.
The idea that you cannot lose weight no matter what you do, is interesting. I bet if you wrote down everything you eat or drink and understand the effects those foods and beverages have on your body, the answer would be clear. We know so little about our food, it is not surprising that people work so hard and yet remain frustrated. I would suggest you get help from someone who can help you with what you need, not a standard diet published on the internet.
The same is true in healthcare as in food choices. Businesses only sell what we choose to buy. If we choose better foods, the store will sell us better foods. If we move more and lose weight, the medical system will change as well. Every business wants to make a profit. The key here is we must change first and then the systems will follow.
How Should You Respond to Pain?
How you respond to your pain, especially in the beginning, is key to saving you a lot of pain and later a lot of costs. For many people, if they feel pain, they grab a pain reliever as advertised by the business that sells it. Again, as I mentioned with food, understanding why your back hurts, instead of assuming you have a bad back, could allow you to solve your pain in minutes versus weeks to months of pain.
Many times, I see local athletes wear knee braces for their knee pain, inserts in shoes for foot pain, or a back brace for back pain. The mistake here is thinking that where I feel the pain is what is causing the pain. Knee pain can be caused by calf muscles, shin muscles, quads, front of thighs, or hamstrings. Foot pain can be from calf muscles or shin muscles. Back pain can be caused by all the muscles of the feet and legs. I think it is interesting to see people wear an elastic back brace to lift something. Even if you lift correctly, you may experience back pain when you stand up. How can this be? When you lift correctly, using your legs and not your back, the muscles on the front of your thighs will get tight and tilt your pelvis forward which can lead to low back pain.
The Role of Stretching
Most athletes think they are stretching because a coach or trainer said so. If you are told to hold it as far as you can for as long as you can, then you are strength training and tightening your muscles. If you visualize pulling taffy when stretching, you are strength training and tightening your muscles. Sadly, most people are stretching their muscles incorrectly, and wind up frustrated and thinking that stretching doesn’t work.
Stretching requires a different mindset than strength training does. When strength training, you are breaking through boundaries, and therefore pushing yourself to lift more and more times is beneficial. When stretching, the mindset is releasing tension in the body by using your brain to relax the body, breathe out as you stretch, and release the tension in the muscle.
Stretching correctly is focusing on specific muscles, not specific areas. The idea you need to tighten your abs or hips while stretching is not stretching. The brain will control your muscles from an emotional place. Think about it. If you are upset about something, is your body relaxed or ready to fight? So the mind is in complete control of your muscles. By breathing out while stretching you are allowing the brain to relax the muscle. Trying to stretch too many muscles at one time prevents the brain from knowing which muscle you want to release. Don’t make it difficult. Take your time as stretching should feel relaxing and nearly meditative.
You do not need to feel pain when stretching, just feel the muscle release and over time you will feel your body move better and be freer than ever before. Lastly, stretching needs to be a daily event. If you wait until you have pain, it is a little late. Although stretching can help you relieve the pain, wouldn’t it be nice to not have that pain in the first place? As you learn how to release your muscles, you will desire that feeling more and more. This does not mean you need to stretch every muscle every day. Think about the activities you did in the last 24 hours and stretch the muscles most affected. For example, if you sat in front of a computer all day, the front of your thighs and hips will be tight and create low back stiffness.
Play with your muscles and brain and see how well they work together. Once you can see this, stretching will easily become a habit.
In using my technique, you are allowing the brain to release the muscles versus the brute force that you see in many gyms and physical therapy. It takes practice, but once you get it, and you will, your body will feel more energized and vibrant.
Stretching is more about feeling the muscles letting go than forcing them to stretch. If you are forcing the muscle, you could be doing strength training, not stretching. Make sure you are feeling the intended muscle stretching. If not, the form could be wrong. Holding for 5 seconds allows the brain to release the muscle before it senses any danger. Repeating the stretches 10 times allows the brain to learn it is safe for the muscle to move that way.
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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 of 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 allowing 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.