Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2013

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best practices busIness sIDe | Q & art | taBle lessons | savvy self-care sometimes Pain is the sum of many factors By douglas Nelson "i can't believe how much my back hurts," said Mr. M., an active young man in his mid-30s. "if i bend over—even a little—it really grabs. At its worst, it can take my breath away. My doctor said it is a muscle spasm, but man, this feels like a lot more than that." "I understand why you think that, but actually a spasm can be one of the worst pains you can experience," I assured him. "But this hurts so much," Mr. M. asserted. "I'm afraid something is seriously wrong." "That's the funny thing about pain," I responded. "We would like to think serious problems hurt worse than less serious ones, but that just isn't true. A paper cut on your tongue can be devastating, yet a deadly cancer may have no symptoms at all. There just isn't a linear relationship between the danger and severity of pain." "Well, if you and the doc are right that this pain is muscular, I don't ever want to feel it again. You have to tell me what movement to avoid. Whatever the trigger was, I don't want to do it again." "Have you been doing anything out of the ordinary?" I asked. "Not really. I did carry big boxes of tax receipts up into the attic, but that was a week ago. I also helped my friends move into their new house, but just for one day last week. Oh yeah, then I changed the plumbing under our bathroom sink, which was a nightmare—a two-hour job turned into a whole weekend of work. I was fi ne until yesterday when I bent over to put on my socks and my back seized up." "I think I know the remedy," I answered thoughtfully. "You need lighter socks." Mr. M. just stared at me for a second, not knowing whether to grimace at a bad joke or if I was actually serious. "Lighter socks, really?" Mr. M. questioned. "OK, not really. What you're searching for is a singular movement that caused your back spasm. In reality, there wasn't one event, but a perfect storm, where bending over to put on your socks was simply the last straw." "I get your point, but there must be some particular movement I should avoid. I don't want to live in fear of moving the wrong way and being in pain again." See what benefits await you. 35

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