Let’s Talk about it...
Recently whilst hiking through the trails in Virginia I found myself mid-hike in quite a lot of pain. I was having to literally, pull on my leggings to assist my left leg forward whilst walking walking. My left psoas was not activating at all and I couldn't lift my leg off the ground without help. In addition to this I still had 6 miles to hike with a a few hundred meters ascension before making it back to my hammock.
Self-treating is difficult, I always go to another specialist when my body is in pain but that wasn't an option available to me. I was nearly 4000 miles from home in the Blue Ridge Mountains with snakes and bears, alone, with no health insurance.
Back at my hammock with what was now cramp in my forearm from gripping my leggings so tightly, I placed my water bottle down on the ground and laid face down with the bottle on the front and side of my hip for 15 minutes to roll it out and ease the pain, which it did… for about 3 minutes.
Many people walk through the door with pain in a particular area assuming that that is where the problem is, and sometimes this may be the case. So it’s not uncommon for people to both tell me and point to me where their pain is and then expect me to spend an hour working on that particular spot, however, the problem could be at the other end and/or side of their body so what they are actually experiencing is referred pain. It may even be a visceral ailment presenting itself as muscular pain or even an emotional trauma could be manifesting itself as physical pain or it could pain that is chronic from an injury you sustained a long time: For example, that neck ache you have at the age of 43 could be the result of that accident you had whilst you and the dog were sledging in the snow on your granny's chopping board back when you were 8 years old.
I realised after laying on the water bottle for so long (without pain relief) that I was on the wrong spot which suggested to me that I could be dealing with referred pain.
When a part of our body becomes injured as a result of trauma our nervous system sends a signal to the brain to tell us that there is something happening in our body that requires our attention. Maybe it's damaged and/or infected but it definitely needs looking at. However, sometimes the problem is not a painful problem, it could be a dysfunction or tension or a growth. It could be bacterial or viral. In this case the nervous system will send a signal to the brain from a part of the body that is experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of the true problem. This could be a musculoskeletal issue (ie. tight calves causing plantar fasciitis) equally, this could be a communication between the visceral tissues and the musculoskeletal system (ie. kidney and colon problems causing back pain).
A few examples of referred musculoskeletal pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
A few examples of referred visceral pain.
Heart issues can refer pain to the:
Kidney issues can refer pain to the:
Liver issues can refer pain to the:
Upper right abdomen
Upper shoulder area
Referred pain (when felt) is usually (though not always) not relieved when pressing on the area where you are feeling the pain and if it is relieved, it will only be temporary. Not only this, referred pain can be difficult to locate. You can locate the area in which you are feeling the pain but there is not one specific point you can press on that hurts. Whereas at the sight of a muscle strain (where the pain is local and not referred) if you press on that particular point it undoubtably brings you discomfort.
The previous day had consisted of a cycle, followed by a hike and then another cycle home (which saw me walking the last mile as I was absolutely f*^%$*). I had not stretched my body after because I was too tired. So I ate, fell into my hammock and fell asleep shortly after sunset. As a result of this I woke with a very tight body and sore legs so... I knew what I had to do and I knew deep down that I should have done it before I set out on my hike that morning.
That evening saw me lying on the ground in pigeon for my piriformis, stretching my hamstrings, and rolling both my quadriceps and my glutes for a rough total of an hour, finishing with self massage and a lot of water.
The next day I felt so good I did a morning hike and a short trail run (with a good stretch at the end of course).
Our bodies are designed to communicate to our brains everything we need to know to keep ourselves healthy and safe. Our bodies tell us when we are hungry, when we are thirsty, when we are in pain, when we are too hot or too cold. Our nervous system informs us of danger and safety, our senses inform us of our surroundings. Everything works in conjunction with each other and everything is connected.
My job is to know and understand those connections and if it falls out of my area of expertise, then I can recommend somebody who's area it does fall into.
Whatever the problem is that is causing your pain I work my absolute hardest to find it and support it. Maybe you took a hockey stick to the ribs and are having trouble with your breath, or you have pelvic girdle pain from the twins residing in your uterus. Maybe it’s deeper, it could be possible your diaphragm is injured from an eating disorder you once had, or your chronic chest pain is a result of anxiety and maybe you just need to cry for 30 minutes before I get my hands on you. Sometimes the spot is swollen, bruised and obvious and sometimes it requires a little more time to find. However, with a little honesty, a lot of communication, a dash of patience and a half full glass we’ll get to solving the problem; wherever it may be coming from.
Sometimes when we see a lamp in the room it can take us a minute to find the switch. Sometimes it’s right by the bulb, sometimes it’s attached to the cord, sometimes the plug socket is switched off and sometimes… The whole thing is unplugged and we need to plug it in, switch on the plug socket and then flick the switch.
And even then the bulb could be blown and you might just need to buy a new one.
But once you find the problem (whether is be physical or emotional), the release is life changing, the room lights up and you can dance naked to Stevie Wonder without fear of hurting yourself or breaking something.
So... sometimes you might think I’m way off but believe me... whether I am asking you about your day or pressing my elbow into your quadratus femoris I’m doing my best to hit all the relevant spots to ensure that you get the release you need.