“Pain is a signal for change, not a measure of the amount of damage done”
This statement and the many variations of it, is one of the most important things you can discover when it comes to looking after yourself….. or others.
We need to remember that Pain is not always the enemy.
In fact if you take note of what it may be telling you, make the appropriate change, then you may well stop yourself from creating a much bigger problem.
In the short term - for some things this may mean stopping the particular painful action or movement.
But for many things it is your body asking for a break from overloading a particular structure or tissue - and to do so may just require a simple tweak to the way you do things.
Lets take the example of bending forward.
When you bend forward are you using your back to create the bend or are you using your hips??
A back that continues to excessively flex forward every-time you bend especially when under load (eg picking kids up off the floor, lifting at the gym, or even just tying your shoe) can stress and weaken the discs of the lower back. It may just give you a dull ache after, a little bit of discomfort, or perhaps the feeling of “muscle pain”.
But what if you listened to this pain a bit more and made a change to they way you bend?
It doesn't mean you cant bend this way - but what if you started to use the hips more and the back less?
It could be that this little change in the way you move will save you a whole lot of trouble over the years.
So how do you do it?
Start by taking a look at this video and exercise called the “hip hinge”.
Learning how to keep the back strong and stable whilst the hips do the work has been one of the best things i have ever spent time learning.
It looks easy - which it does eventually become - but don’t be surprised if you find it a challenge at first.
This same idea can be applied to other movements or exercises or tasks that we want to do in our lives.
Too many times I hear people say that they loved to run, to play tennis, to ride horses etc etc - but now it hurts something somewhere in their body so they just stopped doing the thing they loved.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it is not that the activity is bad - it is just the way you do the activity that is bad.
Perhaps the pain is your bodies way to signal you to change the way you are doing something - not to never do it again.
Now I know this is not always the case - but it is something to think about.