You Are the Sum of Your Experiences

A new patient came in the other day, a young mother in her early 30s, complaining of pain in her neck and upper back. After an examination and treating her twice with deep-tissue bodywork and spinal adjustments, she called to cancel her next appointment, saying she would just do more stretching and some yoga. I asked her why, and she said it was because she hurt worse after each visit and didn’t think it was helping. I explained to her that when we attempt to release chronic pain, it sometimes ends up hurting worse initially because “the only way out of pain is through it”. She replied that she hadn’t done anything to hurt herself recently, but she did remind me that she had done a lot of horseback riding and mountain bike riding as a kid, and could that be part of the problem?

Well, a history of falling off horses and mountain bikes can leave a lasting impression on your body, and over time, the accumulation of those impacts is going to alter your physical structure. In particular, creating early onset arthritis and degenerative joint disease. My patient responded with “but I’m too young to start having arthritis.” Unfortunately, age has nothing to do with it, but the mileage and collective repetition of every fall, twist and strain that impacted the soft tissue and skeletal system. Your body will develop compensations that lead to stiff joints, tight muscles and restricted movement, which affects your posture and your activities.

Most of these imbalances can be corrected with myofascial releasing, spinal adjusting and therapeutic exercises (which I am doing with the aforementioned patient). The key is recognizing that you have to “undo” or “unlearn” old patterns and replace them with new ones. Sometimes this can hurt in the process, but the result is moving and playing in a body that has fewer restrictions and greater ease of movement. You may start today.

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