The Pain is Often Not Where the Problem is

The pain is often not where the problem is

The Pain is Often Not Where the Problem is

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and in some instances, you’ve probably even experienced it, but unless you have an interest or some training in how the human body works and moves, it likely isn’t clear WHY this is the case. To help explain this phenomenon, I’ve come up with a little analogy. 

The workplace analogy

Imagine there are two employees working within the same office. One employee tends to slack off; they show up late, they don’t finish their work, they’re disorganized and they tend to leave early. Another employee is a hard worker; they see the things that aren’t being completed and take those responsibilities on in addition to their own. 

Now imagine this goes on for a while. Which employee is going to show signs of burnout? You guessed it! The employee that is taking on the extra work. 

The human body works very similarly, particularly in cases where a symptom or pain has slowly crept up over time without an obvious cause. One body region isn’t quite pulling its weight; whether there isn’t enough mobility, strength, endurance or control and coordination for a task, and a neighbouring body region steps in to help. This is called a compensation.

Now, compensations aren’t ‘bad’. In fact, it’s a really good sign that your body can find a way to get you through! The issue is when that compensation becomes your new way of doing things all the time. We start to see repetitive overuse and burnout.

So when unpleasant symptoms show up, it’s usually just your body telling you something is going on elsewhere and this particular body region can no longer ‘cover’ for it. How do we figure out where things started? That brings us to my next analogy.

The head office analogy

Let’s say the two employees from the previous analogy work for your company, but you spend your days at the head office. As far as you’re concerned, based on outcomes and reports, the job is getting done. It’s not until you start getting complaints in your inbox that you realize something isn’t quite right. And so, as an involved owner of your company, you go to the job site to see what’s actually going on. The employee not pulling their weight can be addressed, the burnt out employee can carry less load, and things become more efficient. 

In this scenario, your conscious awareness is you working in the head office, the body region in question is the separate office your employees work out of, and you physically going to the job site to observe things is a metaphor for taking the time to really pay attention to how your body is moving.

Stay tuned for next month’s post about the next step! 

If you can’t wait, book yourself an appointment! We offer massage therapy which includes assessment and home care instruction, Discovery appointments with a heavier focus on movement and some hands on massage, as well as in person or virtual movement therapy sessions where the entire focus is on movement assessment, treatment and home care education. 

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