Our Paindemic and The Anti-Pain Lifestyle
Updated: Sep 23
I have neck pain from two herniated cervical discs. Just writing this down makes my pain better. In her book "Paindemic, A Practical and Holistic Look at Chronic Pain, The Medical System, and the antiPAIN Lifestyle", author and osteopathic physician Melissa Cady, lists key things that help manage pain and put you on the road toward an anti-pain lifestyle. Acknowledging your pain, is just one of these things.
For a movement teacher, a herniated disc diagnosis creates an odd sense of guilt and denial. Me, have a herniated disk? What did I do wrong? However, letting go of that self-judgement and self-perfection brings about a sense of freedom. Cady describes our "Paindemic" as an epidemic of chronic pain associated with over utilization of pills, injections and surgeries. "In all seriousness, we all experience the aging process. We can see gray hair and wrinkles; they are visible and common. Yet, the invisible aspects of the human body are what can seem foreign, perplexing and scary. When something sounds abnormal like a herniated disc, patients often fear the worst. Here is the reality that most physicians know, but most patients do not know -- nearly everyone has a spinal "abnormality." (Chapter 12, pg 86) Many“normal” people have been found on MRI scans to have some type of disc “derangement” (alteration of the normal integrity of the disc), with many showing herniations with no pain at all.
To avoid dependence on harsh drugs and unnecessary surgeries, Cady promotes an Anti-Pain Lifestyle with a list of healthy activities to help improve and prevent pain that includes:
The Alexander Technique Somatic Education The Gyrotonic® Method
Pilates Yoga Tai Chi Qigong Dance Therapy
In addition, there is something called Neuroplasticity and it's always present within us. Our nervous system and it's sense of pain, can be influenced in a positive way by choosing a different path. On the flip side, fixating on pain leads to pain avoidance which in turn leads to decreased movement. "The body is meant to move; fixating on pain can worsen movement, function and pain." (Chapter 17, pg125) "When you approach an activity or exercise, you must teach your brain that what you are doing is not harmful." (Chapter 29, pg 164)
My neck pain has improved greatly. However, it was only after I accepted the truth and got back to practices that I love and that I teach to others did I begin healing. Most notably The Alexander Technique, Gyrotonic® exercise and gentle Pilates. I approach these activities different now however. I listen to my body when it gets tired and I explore "exercise" with new eyes -- finding organic ease in movement and through that comes flexibility, strength and healing.
Are you experiencing pain from a chronic condition or injury? I'm available to talk with you about how The Alexander Technique coupled with the right movement program might help you in your journey. Feel free to call, text or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-515-9290.
Additional links on pain and The Alexander Technique: https://alexandertechnique.com/applications/pain/
Info on Neuroplasticity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELpfYCZa87g
PAINDEMIC, A Practical and Holistic Look at Chronic Pain, the Medical System, and the anti-PAIN Lifestyle, by Melissa Cady, D.O., Morgan James Publishing 2016. Available on Amazon.com.