Move Well to Be Well

Sep 30, 2015


By Dan Miller, PT, MS,  Director of Healing Motion Physical Therapy


Let’s face it. Our world is on the go, and in its wake creating both opportunity and challenges for our wellbeing. Within our personal lives and activities, the vessel we must rely on to course this journey is our own body. Day in day out our bodies either spontaneously or on command provide the essential movements necessary to both sustain health as well as to fulfill our daily requirements.


When healthy, our bodies are designed to both support the very motions inherent to our personal lives while simultaneously sustaining the health of the essential tissues foundational to the support of this movement. Most often this organization is so efficient that we devote no conscious thought to movement, leaving us the freedom to focus on “higher priorities.”


But what happens when the movements we previously paid no measurable attention to, begin to occupy a progressive focus of our minds as a result of pain? The truth is a lot happens, mostly good but potentially bad depending on how we react to the pain. First of all, initial pain is our bodies own alarm system that something is wrong. Whether it is a stomach or head ache or back pain when vacuuming or after playing golf, our nervous system is communicating to our conscious mind that we have a concern that needs addressed.


Of particular interest to movement and in particular movement health is while your brain is sorting out whether this warrants a trip to the doctor or a trip to the medicine cabinet or simply ignore it and hope it goes away, your subconscious mind is organizing movement options in the form of compensations. Your mind now knows there is a problem, but it also recalls you have to either get the children off to school or get yourself to work and this pain isn’t about to compromise your ability to fulfill these requirements. Hence we gingerly limp or guard as a mechanism of avoiding pain. We may recognize if we lift an object differently or stoop in such a way, suddenly the pain is lessened. While this approach may alleviate your short term fears and support your capacity to fulfill today’s demands, 2 other critical matters persist:


  1. The source of the pain has not been identified nor resolved.
  2. While your brain has supported taking the immediate concern off your radar, it continues to establish pain avoidances that all too often secure the original disorder as well as create a new source of irritant to our bodies.


It is important to recognize a significant source of a person’s persisting pain is actually residing within their own body’s adaptations to previous pain and other remaining physical impairments. I have found many people often do not realize how much this physically costs us until we begin to get it back. Often patients will say, “I did not realize how much I was actually hurting or how tight I was.” Our bodies deliver for us, in our requirements to “keep going”. To do so however, it relies on muscle substitutions and resultant compensations which ultimately lead to the well know statement “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.” It is usually the final straw that reveals the reality there were multiple previous straws or contributions to the now perplexing pain. While the process to truly heal requires patience and perseverance the reward of not living either in pain or prolonged compromise is so worth the effort.


Dan Miller, PT, MS, has taken the lead to bring his vision for care encompassing the whole body, mind and spirit establishing relief from pain and long-term recovery to Healing Motion Physical Therapy.



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