Sunday, November 17, 2013

Knowing When to Say, "When."


     A client of mine spurred the impetus for this post. She had her own "AHA" moment realizing that continuously "working through pain" is not always the answer to healing. (You know who you are. Thank you for your keen insight, and blessing.) ;) She struggles on and off with a hamstring, IT band and piriformis issue that mimics sciatica. She pushes herself hard in a variety of physical outlets. This particular day, she had just run a 5K. She reported her ongoing problem as being a little "twingy" after the run, but over-all, felt pretty good. Her SI joints and hips were slightly out of alignment which is normal because she leads heavily with one side. While working to balance her back out, she told me that ever since she rested for a few weeks from the rigors of her usual routine, she noticed in a recent Taekwondo class she takes, that she is finally able to do a particular kick that she had been struggling with. AHA! She had just come back from a week-long vacation and was "easing" back into her schedule. She observed that since she had been being a little more gentle with herself, the offending muscles and corresponding fascia actually had time to unwind, and return to the proper resting length. This has opened up her body to have greater range of motion, stamina, and strength. You go, girl! Gently.
     In contrast to this awesome report, I had another client who doesn't believe in rest. He is a firm believer that "no pain, no gain, at any and all costs". This client works as a personal trainer, is built like a truck, and, despite his young age, has the range of motion in some of his joints of a senior citizen. "Yeah. I got a lot of work for you to do," he sighs. Never mind the taught bands restricting his neck and shoulders that are better suited for holding up a bridge than the human body.  It is when I get down to the legs that the true atrocities become evident.
    This client's hamstrings are like individual, solid, steel pipes with wrinkles and wads of scar tissue, throughout. The IT bands are so tight that there is a actually an outward bow developing in the shape of the thighs. There are corresponding "clicking" and "popping" sounds from the knees and ankles, sounding off from their torturous misalignment. On the front of the thighs there is more scarred and wadded up fascia and muscle-fibers gone horribly wrong. In one quad, there is an egg-shaped knot of such derelict fibers. "Yeah. That's from my last tear," he admits. I asked him if he realizes that when he gets into his 30's, if he doesn't knock this off, he isn't going to be moving very well, at all. He relates that he knows, and further relates that this last tear put him down for 6 months with crutches. I am stunned. He then goes on to say, "That's why I am working so hard, to get back to where I was." No AHA, here, unfortunately. After delicately trying to explain why this is a bad idea, he retorts, "I can't help it. It's an addiction." I finish my work, and quietly leave.
     Now, to see this guy walking about, he looks like a very fit, young man. It is sad that this is not the case. There is nothing wrong with pushing one's self up to the limit and eventually, making a break-though to another level. There does, however, have to be a respect for the integrity of the body and its health, for its own sake. Part of this maintenance includes rest. It is not an option. It is a necessity, if you want the body to be able to keep working to and through limits.  Please remember this the next time a limit is being approached. Be gentle with yourself. It is the only body you have, and it needs to last a life-time.

Have a happy and healthy week, everyone. Bright Blessings!

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