What helps most people out of long term pain are active strategies.
The word active here means things people do for themselves, as opposed to treatments that are passive.
A passive treatment is something that is done to you that can’t replicate for yourself, like massage or some chiropractic treatments. Exercise, or mindfulness would be examples of active approaches, and of course Alexander Technique. These are things you can use for yourself to manage or settle pain, either directly soothing or changing something, or indirectly by helping your overall state.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting passive treatments.
They can be a really good idea if they give you some much needed relief from pain in the short term, but do you feel like you are making progress towards being able to manage things on your own?
If you aren’t learning about what triggers your pain or how to deal with it yourself then you are reliant on making an appointment and shelling out cash every time pain flares up.
This can be a factor in pain persisting and reoccurring — the fear and stress of pain is greater when you don’t understand why it flares up and what to do for yourself when it does.
Just because the goal is your independence that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get lots of help and support.
Especially at the beginning. Any approach that deals with the nitty gritty of tackling long term pain will be asking you to make changes to your habits of doing, thinking, moving…. Alexander Technique is almost 100% about habit change.
Change is hard.
So you do need support and guidance. But it should be a process where the reins are handed over to you as soon as possible. One of the biggest changes my clients report is self-empowerment and the confidence that gives them to do more.
Feeling more in control of your own pain is key to getting back to the life you want to live.
- Do you have something to go to if your pain flares up?
- Do you feel you are working towards your pain improving over time (even if it’s a bumpy road?)
If not then you need to learn some active strategies.
Active Rest is the first one I teach to clients, but also you can learn techniques to settle pain ‘on the go’. For instance, one of my clients works in dentistry and they find that maintaining awkward positions sets off upper back pain. They are learning how to support their arms better and cope with these positions for longer. But while that skill is getting established they have already learnt strategies to calm pain that’s triggered by doing long procedures at work. Stopping just for a moment or two and using the freeing and undoing techniques they have learnt, resets everything. They go home fine, when they used to go home in pain after that sort of work.
And if you do this undoing of tension and calming of your reactions everyday regularly, then you can stop the tension and pain starting up in the first place.
So active approaches can cover a lot of things: exercise/movement, technologies like using step counters or apps like ‘calm’, cognitive therapies, self massage etc.
What you want them to do are:
- Calm an overactive nervous system
- Get you moving more (usually)
- Change the way you move to it make it more comfortable
- Support good sleep
- Help your mind — calmness, acceptance (not the same as giving up), adding back in fun
- Help you to self monitor and pace well
As Alexander technique can help with all these things it ticks lots of the boxes for an active approach to pain.
Are you in the driving seat of your recovery?
If you want to talk through your situation and how you can start to take charge of it you can book a free call with me here