In our world that has a pill for every condition, where conditions seem to emerge daily and then the pills to fix those conditions appear in ad after ad, we understandably can fall into the desire for a short term fix for our aches and pains. We are directed by our media, our medical institutions, doctors to look outside of ourselves for solutions to our pain. At the other end of the spectrum we may get so discouraged with the limits of our medical institutions that we stop consulting them altogether and simply live with our pain, falling slowly into the belief that pain is an inevitable part of aging. In all of this noise and the busyness of our lives we can forget to consult our bodies, and we may not realize how much we can do for ourselves to reduce pain and improve the quality of our lives.
I had a client who came to me to help them build strength leading up to a knee replacement surgery. The surgery was planned for later that month. We did two or three sessions and I created a video for them to use for their home practice. The exercises were nothing fancy – simply lubricating joints, building the strength of the muscles around the knee, getting that VMO to remember to turn on to support knee tracking, glutes for stabilizing alignment. Most of the exercises were with a foam roller. This person didn’t need to have session after session to work on this. The key was their discipline. This person diligently did the exercises four to five times a week. By the end of the month this person was feeling so much less pain that they were back to playing tennis and ended up postponing the surgery.
This person did end up needing to do the surgery eventually, but when they did they knew that they had done all that they could. There are many things we need medicine, doctors and medical procedures for and I’m grateful for all that is available to us these days. And there is much we can do too. For some of us this discipline of self-care comes more easily, for some of us pain, impending surgery can be big motivator, and for others of us (I include myself here) it can be hard to be consistent about listening to our bodies and doing the things to support our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. There are lots of internal and external reasons for this and I don’t mean to minimize how complex it is to really take care of ourselves in a culture that would have it otherwise. And on top of these obstacles, we’re so busy and there’s so much noise. Consider this though, if you take good care of yourself – sleep, eat well, exercise, laugh, dance, sing and rest – and this means you experience even a little less pain and a little more joy. Then you’ve reduced the amount of pain in the world and increased the amount of joy. How would things begin to shift if we all began taking small step after small step towards our self-care and well being?