Jul 28, 2014

Big Girl Pants and Neck Pain

Many people don't realize the effects that injuries or other events impact our life/well-being in the future.  I have mentioned neck problems before but I haven't really gotten into the extent of how bad it actually is.  I was in a car accident 19 years ago that caused some damage to my neck.  The x-rays showed that the vertebrae was curved in the opposite direction from what it was supposed to be.  After a lot of adjustments I was medically released saying that was the best they were going to be able to do.  I put my big girl pants on because that was just how it was going to be.  (Looking back I realize I did not have to accept that and should not have)

Stick with me on this story because I am building up to the wellness part, as well as some excellent points,  - I promise it is not just about my neck pain.

I started to experience daily headaches.  Additionally, I worked on the phones so the headset aggravated the headache situation and eventually it was something I was so used to that I just ignored it -as it was part of my daily life.  Matter of fact, I even forgot I had headaches every day.  Kinda like breathing is part of our regular every day life so we don't think of it.  Again, because it was so normal to me-so I just wore my big girl pants and moved on with life.

As many of you know I am a massage therapist.  During school we learned techniques by practicing on one another prior to practicing on the public.  At which point I received daily massage.  How lucky were we??!!  It was really rather glorious but that is not the point I am making here.  One day, a few months in, I realized I no longer had headaches and was pain free.  The giant knot had dissipated and was gone.  I was truly amazed and SO EXCITED and realized the daily massage had allowed the healing process to take its course.  I could not believe that I could actually live pain free!  What a wonderful thing after so many years to be able to experience no pain.  No more need for big girl pants!

A couple years ago I was swimming laps and aggravated that area of my neck to the point that I could not work out for a couple days.  This killed me!  I hate skipping days but I also understand that injuries can become worse if ignored.  So I stayed out of the gym and it was good as new.  Until I tried to swim laps again.  Evidently laps are something that get to be added to the "do not do" list. 


First point:  Stick with treatment upon the initial onset of an injury to help reduce problems in the future.  The body needs time to heal and depending on the severity of the injury it may be a long or short treatment process.  I am sure many of you have known someone who had a certain number of appointments but ended up skipping out on the remaining few.  Sometimes they end up being fine in the end but why risk it?

I listened to my body and hated every minute of it.  Hated that I had to stop doing specific workouts.  Hated that I couldn't swim laps anymore.  Hated that I would be out of the gym for days at a time.  The problem worsened.  I don't get it.  I was doing what I was supposed to by avoiding activity that aggravates it yet it wasn't working!  I thought it was my pillow because it was getting flat so I went through about 9 gazillion new pillows ranging in cost from $25.00-$130.00.  Some soft, some firm, some thicker and others thinner.  WTH was I going to do?  Try out every type of pillow humanly possible?  I don't think so.  This is ridiculous!  In the meantime I went back to getting  regular massage.  I went one day every week for 3 weeks and got it under control.  All the while testing out pillows.

Second point:  Listen to your body.  Pain is the body's way of letting you know something is wrong.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people 'pushing through' the pain.  We are only supposed to do that when we are sore from another workout!  I previously wrote about no pain no gain and it talks about the difference between pushing through soreness of another workout and just plain being dumb by pushing through a workout with an injury.   It is crucial to take care of yourself and be mindful so as to avoid further injury.

Even if it means not working out for a little bit, it is important to listen to your body.  I have been doing that a lot more frequently lately - so I gotta put my big girls pants on AGAIN because I don't like missing so much gym time.  I realize there are people who cannot do some of or many of the videos or exercises I have posted due to a variety of physical injuries or ailments. If this is the case for you, know that you are not alone.  Sometimes a modified version can be done while others no versions can be done but it is not the end of the world.... even though it feels like it.  There are other things that can be done, including modifying eating habits.

One day a therapist reminds me that side sleeping is the worst thing for the entire body.  How the hell do I control how I sleep?  I am sleeping!  I remembered this from being in massage and went to sleeping on my back.  I could not sleep at all for a couple nights because it was soooo un-com-fort-able.  Yuck!  I tried barricading myself in bed with pillows - like a little infant.  I tried tucking pillows under my sides so I could not turn.  Not sure what's left?  My big girl pants are getting a bit worn out from wearing them ALL THE TIME.
Long story short, I wake up on my side anyway and it hurts like hell.  It makes the situation a hundred and one times worse.  I have massage therapy that hurts even worse so I can barely move for a couple days.  It is crucial to take care of this and I feel like I am doing a good job by paying attentionand being aware.  I have bene mindful so as to avoid further injury and in the meantime I don't really know what else to do.  I come across a meditation for pain. 

Then I remember that the mind is the most powerful we have.  Our minds can create things (like happiness, negativity, etc) so isn't it possible that it can cure things too?  It sounds a bit far fetched but it reminds me of when I started to get bored of massage (because some clients don't like talking so I had to be quiet for an hour or more at a time-which was ROUGH) and shortly after I developed a knee injury which meant I was forced to look for a new job/career.  At the time I thought it was coincidence - and kinda good timing- but now I am thinking otherwise.

This sounds a bit crazy doesn't it?  It kinda does.  Well, not to me because I have been introduced to the concept before.  In the meantime I am getting desperate in figuring out how to resolve this chronic issue short of medicating myself and becoming a lump on a log for the rest of my life.  I can relate to what it is like to be unable to work out due to an injury.  Limited in what my daily activities consist of.  Limited in what my lesiurely activities consist of.  Even household chores are impossible.  

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It is extremely disheartening to be limited in what I can or cannot do.  I hate being dictated to because I physically should not do something.  It is not that I I am physically incapable- it is that I should not.  Or that the pain is so excrutiating that I am a cranky little b*tch.  Actually, if I did not listen to my body and worked out with these issues it could result in irreversible injuries.

Third point:   Be open minded to concepts that could literally cure an ailment.  When we have tried everything we possibly can but it just isn't enough and we don't want to give it doesn't hurt to think about curing yourself.

The meditation I found was a way to rid your body of pain.  The problem that most of us run into is that it is something beyond our normal realm of living and practicing.  The concept of meditation is becoming more and more popular as science is discovering how many different things it is good for. 

After I finished the meditation I was thinking about the shifts in thinking during the video.  I am sure you have heard the saying "change your mind and change your world" and the concept of healing yourself is much the same.

Change your thoughts and you change your world. - Norman Vincent Peale

It takes practice to shift thinking from negative to positive so it will take practice to meditate for pain.  For some of us, it will take practice to meditate at all.

Fourth point:  If mental/emotional stress can cause physical pain we can use the same concept for anything, even pain.

Think about it just for a second.  We all know that some people carry their stress in their neck, back or shoulders, right?  We all know that this is PHYSICAL, REAL pain caused by emotions, situations and circumstances, right?  Sometimes one issue resolves itself and a new one arises... it is the viscious cycle that we know to be true.  Which means I will always have this issue and if it goes the way it has been, it will continually worsen.  I have practiced this method since Wednesday and it is working so far. 

This, combined with regular massage, should prove to bring me back to the state mentioned above when I was in massage school.  I came to this conclusion because the circumstances during that part of my life are what created a positive healing environment that was successful and lasting.  The longer I strayed from that mindset and those practices (daily massage and positive thinking/meditation) the more the stresses of life conquer me rather than me conquer it!

My plan is to continue with changing my thoughts and practicing specific meditations as well as regular massage. Massages can be costly so I will go to the school nearby evey week and pay $25.00 for an hour instead of $60.00 for an hour. Once a month I will get a massage from my regular therapist so that I am getting the full medical benefit needed. 

Lastly, using a topical pain reliever such as Tiger Balm, BioFreeze or Myomed combined with ice and/or a combo of ice and heat can help with the healing process.  Heat should not be used on acute injuries which is within the first 7-10 days of the occurrence.

I was wearing my 'big girl pants' because I accepted a neck injury (and knee injury) as part of my every day life.  It was a way of dealing with the situation at hand but not actually overcoming it.  Even if the injury never fully heals it will definitely improve significantly.  How do I know?  It happened before and I did not even have a clue that was going to happen!

Do you think it is possible?  Write your comments below, I love them!

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  1. Oh my gosh, $25 for an hour massage sounds amazing...I have had lower back issues ever since working at a daycare. It still hurts off and on. I'm glad you found some relief for your pain instead of just ignoring it.

    1. Thank you. It is a great deal! All the schools around here have that type of deal and they have already had some practice prior to working on the public.

  2. I loved the clinic days during my LMT training. I miss them a great deal.
    But, I am super lucky that Klay is a quick learner, and that I basically taught him what to do! I'm a lucky gal. Super lucky.

    This is a great post. Pain is a part of my daily life.. sometimes just hiding in the background and sometimes FULL force.. So, I completely loved all of your points.

    They are also good reminders, because being a strong woman, I like to pretend that I need to push through it... that I have no other choice. But, I do. A break won't kill me.

    You're a rockstar!

    1. LOL!! I had to laugh because I always think a break is the end of the world! Thanks for stopping in.

  3. My husband started getting regular monthly massages and getting in chiropractic visits and it's done wonders for him.

    We just need to listen to our bodies. Even when it's hard!

    1. I remember, growing up, my mom called chiropractors 'quacks' and that the minute you go you will always have to go back again.

      What she did not know, and I learned later, is that we always do things (fall, workout, jump, move, pick up kids, etc.) to put our body out of alignment - which is why we need to go back.