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Pain is an Option – part 3, A New Model

RelaxAndrew Weil, MD, the Harvard-trained holistic physician, would say in our planning meetings, allopathic medicine is not set up to treat chronic illness. Chronic means it existed for some time. It’s not a tibia you broke skiing, it’s that back pain that won’t go away.

“There are plenty of data suggesting that a multidisciplinary approach to chronic pain works as effectively as high-dose opioid treatment…. What insurers and workers’ comp agencies are discovering is that when workers are treated with high doses of opioid drugs fairly soon after these injuries, it’s the leading predictor for them not coming back to work for long periods of time, or ever. “[1]

Most people want more than to “treat” their pain. They want to eliminate it. This is possible with the release of the cause of the pain. The pain represents the tip of the iceberg of an old problem. The iceberg needs melting. As the previous article described, going from fighting the pain to accepting the body sensations, then to releasing the resistance can be transformational.

After 35 years and more than a thousand clients, my biggest realization is that when the body releases its tension all the resources that went into what the body experienced as survival can be allocated to healing. If a mountain lion is chasing you, you will do everything to escape. You won’t feel the pain of running into branches. Surviving depends on using every ounce of energy to run for your life. This is what chronic pain does to you. You are trying to survive.

Getting your autonomic nervous system to shift from the sympathetic state (the survival state) to the parasympathetic state (the rejuvenation state) is the key to addressing the cause of most chronic pain. Your body’s soft tissue system is your stress holder. Much like a rubber band wound tight, your tight body is holding a lot of stored tension—which is the classic set up for pain.

The older or worse the chronic pain, the more chronic tension in the body, which means the more you release that tension, the less pain you will have. There is no drug that will cause your body to release tension, there are those including alcohol that will mask the tension. To attain the depth of relaxation to release the pain you need to do more than “relax.” After years of tension, your body lost its ability to relax on its own.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction retrains your body and mind the forgotten skill of relaxation. Deeper massage over time will release and retain the body as will yoga. As will other forms of soft tissue manipulation such as visceral manipulation, Rolfing, and possibly acupuncture. As a Rolfer, I tend to be the last resort for the super tense. When other therapies can’t get a hard body to relax, the practitioners send the patients to a Rolfer. I say that with a little dread, because it’s hard work working on a tense body—until they let go. I know this from having super tense clients, but also from being one myself.

All previous articles are on our blog.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer, www.align.org – call if you have questions: 265.8440.

[1] New York Times, The Problem With Pain Pills, June 26, 2013

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