IF YOUR BACKACHE, headache, hip pain or any other muscle-related pain has left you wondering “Where did this come from?,” think first about your muscles and how you have used them.
“Muscles are witnesses to our adventures, athletic endeavors, the blows we suffer at the hands of others and the blows (especially the emotional ones) we self-administer. All accidents, strains, hurts, operations, illnesses, repetitive motions, overwork, even the babies we bear and children we raise, leave their marks in our muscles.
When you start looking for the causes of your pain, you won’t have to look far. Our history is in our muscles and they report accurately, without exaggeration. What’s more, muscles never lie. If you hurt there’s a reason; consult with your muscles.” —Bonnie Prudden
Here Is How
To put the puzzle together you first have to examine all the pieces. It is easy to remember the BIG hurts: Your fall from the tree and your broken arm; your aching neck after the car accident; your three days in bed with excruciating back pain following your very hard splat, seat straight down, on the ice. But what about the more subtle hurts, the ones that are not immediately apparent?
Whenever muscles are insulted…overused, misused, injured, or held in the same position…they gather trigger points. Trigger points are irritable spots that get into the muscles when they are injured any time throughout life. Eventually they create havoc in the form of muscle pain.
Solving the puzzle involves a bit of remembering, recording and detective work.
Make a muscle diary for yourself and you will soon discover that your muscle injuries are determining your patterns of pain and that you have taken the first important step toward getting rid of that pain. Below are some clues to help you on your way.
Muscle damage often begins at birth for both baby and mother. Breach births, damaged collar bones, forceps deliveries all take their toll on the baby’s muscles as does sitting in one position for nine months. Later on these may manifest in headaches, neck pain or turned in feet. If you have headaches, ask your Mom about your birth. Long hours of labor, damage to the pelvic floor, Cesarean births all leave their mark in the mother’s muscles that may result in groin pain, incontinence and pain during intercourse later on. You may not want to think back to those many hours leading up to the arrival of the bundle of joy but there may be clues to what you are experiencing now.
Old accidents tend to snooze until we get under physical and or emotional stress and then they seem to come out of nowhere. Many may be big (as the ones already mentioned), or more subtle…like the “almost fall”, the “fender bender” or the trip over the cat. In any case all accidents establish damage in the muscles. NO accident is insignificant. Think back on yours and make a list.
Each sport requires that the muscles develop certain patterns in order to play the game and enjoy the pleasure of the activity. If you are on a team, a topnotch player or a “weekend warrior,” you know exactly what muscles are involved because they tell you about it the next day. For runners the target is the calves, hamstrings and thighs. Spike sports that require quick starts and stops put extreme stress on the joints of the hip, knees and ankles and the controlling muscles. Riding, tennis and badminton, gymnastics, hiking, wrestling, swimming, archery, biking, rock climbing, skiing, what muscle groups are involved in YOUR sport of choice? Is it one sided like bowling? Does it require balance as in dance and skating? Does it involve primarily the upper body as in kayaking? And while you are at it think of the injuries you might have sustained while enjoying your sport.
Many occupations require that you either hold your muscles in certain positions for extended periods such as desk and computer work, or they require that you do the same thing over and over — such as a checkout clerk in the grocery store or factory worker. Waiters and waitresses work off balance and with heavy loads. It doesn’t matter that you did the job when you were twenty and that you are now retired… The damage was done and it is there still…. waiting… waiting… waiting. Some of the most deadly occupations when it comes to patterns of pain and severity of pain are hairdressers, violinists and dental hygienists who are required to hold awkward positions and perform minute precise movements under stress for hours at a time. Many of us have had numerous occupations and all of them count. “ONLY a housewife” (there is no such person) also has patterns of muscle use, lifting in awkward positions, carrying on one hip, pushing, pulling and whatever the moment requires. Some would even argue that it is worse than football.
Any time a foreign object is introduced into the body through the skin an injury is sustained. The wound heals and leaves its mark, not only on the outside but on the inside too. Any surgery, elective, “designer”, routine or not so routine, leaves behind the potential for muscle pain later on. Don’t forget your hernia repair.
Engrossing and seemingly otherwise harmless hobbies sneak up on you with their pattern of itty bitty injuries. You are having so much fun that you don’t note the consequences of sitting there for hours making fabulous jewelry… pulling those weeds and planting those flowers just right… craning your neck for hours on end to glimpse that majestic and rare bird. Even the mere act and pleasure of reading for long hours leads to neck and shoulder pain. What are your joys contributing to your every day whispering aches?
Disease does not usually lay down new injuries but what it does do is wake up all the existing ones. Remember the last time you had the flu? You ached all over. More than likely the flu lit up all those old injuries. It is the same with disease. During remission the pain is usually not there or not very bad, but during the flare-ups — oh my! Staying in shape and treating your trigger points while in remission means that the recovery time after the flare up is easier and quicker.
Is Your Muscle Picture Complete?
Look back at all your lists. Did you put the puzzle together? Did you find the missing pieces and gather them into the right list? Is the picture complete?
NOW gather together your Bonnie Prudden books and self-help tools and get to work on those muscles. Treat the trigger points, follow with the corrective exercises, take the Kraus-Weber Tests and NEVER stop consulting your muscles, your biographers.
Here is what Bonnie said about muscles:
“They are grateful for attention and you can be absolutely sure of a return on your investment. They love to complain when you overwork them, but in no time they will measure up to demands if you work them sensibly.
There is a second thing you should know about muscles and for the sake of your happiness if not your life, you had best remember it. They are like vital women in love. You can strain them, overwork them, ask for the impossible and get it… BUT YOU MUST NEVER IGNORE THEM. Their revenge is sure, and they have a deadly, purposeful patience. Little by little they will fail you. At first with fatigue and then in performance. Finally everything will be an effort. They will have destroyed your will to enjoy the good things and make you a pushover for the bad. One day, when you are faced with the question of survival, you may realize, too late, the most important truth of all… that your heart is a muscle.” —How to Keep Slender and Fit After Thirty.
To Get Started On Your Muscles
- Pain Erasure: The Bonnie Prudden Way
- Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide To Pain Free Living
- Bonnie Prudden’s After Fifty Fitness Guide
- Self Help Tools: Shepherd’s Crook And Bodos
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.
Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®