I’ve worked with lots of clients who were in pain and thought they needed fixing. The pain of a sore knee, back, shoulder, hip, or the pain of being overweight can get a person down quick.
Because let’s face it, pain sucks.
If you’ve suffered from chronic or acute pain, you know how all-encompassing it is. It stops you in your tracks and effects everything you do including your moods, work, sex life and relationships. You’re not the most positive person to be around.
Not only do I have firsthand experience, but I’ve witnessed this also with my grandmother who lived with the chronic pain of arthritis and bad lungs. She used to snap at me for no apparent reason and I didn’t see why. But being an adult who has suffered from chronic pain, now I can see why.
Pain puts you in a lousy mood and your patience for everything is diminished.
But Does Pain Mean You’re Broken?
I think some people feel this way because of all the videos on YouTube like the one below who claim they can ‘fix’ an issue, like back pain.
Chronic or acute pain is a complicated issue with various factors that are beyond the scope of this article. Simply put, the brain senses a threat, real or perceived and sends out an ouchy signal. Your brain’s primary job is to keep you alive and will send out pain signals accordingly.
Note- Pain can exist with or without muscle or joint damage.
When I see headlines like “fix your back pain” or “fix your shoulder pain” they mean well but I feel they’re missing the point. For something to be ‘fixed’ assumes something is broken. Like a busted pipe spraying water. But we’re more complicated (than a busted pipe) and so is the process of pain.
Just because we have pain doesn’t mean something needs fixing and because you’re in pain doesn’t mean you’re broken. The human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. Although sometimes we need a little or a lot of help depending on pain severity.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know one thing. You are not broken because we are wonderfully made from birth. For example,
Exercise and Immune System “Fixing” Your Illness
Exercise increases blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body which can improve immunity.
Although the immune system is a complex network, people have only a few immune cells circulating around the body. Plus, these immune cells like to ‘hang out’ in organs like the spleen, where your body can easily kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that cause infections and disease.
Because exercise increases blood and lymph flow circulation as your muscles contract and relax, this increases the circulation of immune cells, making them roam the body at a higher rate and at higher numbers.
Then exercise recruits specialized immune cells—like natural killer cells and T cells to find antigens and kill them. While this happens straight away, this uptick in immune cells doesn’t stick around, unless you exercise consistently (1)
Therefore, it pays to move consistently to help your body heal.
I’ve Made The Mistake Of “Fixing“
Men like to fix things and I’m no different. Because I had some success helping clients with their pain, I thought I could fix all clients but it didn’t take me long to realize this thinking is flawed.
Because failure is humbling.
But here’s what I and other fitness professionals can do when a potential client presents with pain that doesn’t involve putting on a white coat and pretending to play doctor.
Listen to what they have to say. Walk a mile in their shoes. Ask what they do daily to give clues on how they might be playing into their pain. Show them what they can do and emphasize they are not broken. Design a program to work around their pain and to strengthen their body.
Pain is a signal that something is wrong. It is not a signal that you’re broken and in need of fixing because you are already wonderfully made.
Yes, I ranted and danced on top of my soapbox. However, I’m sick and tired of the message pain is a sign of brokenness and somehow, they can ‘fix’ you. Although they mean well, they’re wrong like I once was.
You can (depending on the severity of your pain) heal yourself with a little help.
If you’re in pain and your movement is limited, contact me here and I will listen and try to help.