When Less is More

Most people hate being laid up or in pain and will typically tackle an ache or injury very aggressively to hopefully heal quickly. While some injuries respond well to that strategy, I had a recent experience that showed me less effort can sometimes be more beneficial when it comes to relieving pain in the body. And what I mean by less does not mean doing nothing, but to approach the body in a more gentle, softer way.

In 2014, I took an amazing class called Wilderness Basics offered through the Sierra Club. I went on 3 overnight hiking/camping adventures around the San Diego area. It was an incredible experience and certainly pushed my body as I was not accustomed to some of the strenuous hiking and backpacking I was exposed to. On the last trip we did a lot of rock scrambling, basically climbing up and over large boulders, and I strained something in my hip. Upon returning home I was in, what I would call, intense pain on an almost daily basis. I would be standing and move or twist in the wrong way and my hip would zing me with electricity. It happened several times a day and was unpredictable. Being a massage therapist, I stand and twist in every session, so typically by the end of the day my back and hip was in extreme distress. This went on for several months. My strategy was to do daily deep stretches, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture…virtually I wanted to attack the problem and FIX it! While slowly over time the daily zings went away, there was still a residual pain that lingered, and often my back and hip ached day after day. And nothing seemed to completely erase the pain.

The first Sunday of 2016 I found complete relief. I attended a restorative yoga class at a wonderful yoga studio in La Mesa called A Gentle Way. Restorative yoga is a very gentle form a yoga. Most everything is done on the floor. It’s very gentle stretching using a lot of props, bolsters and pillows to support your body as you hold a stretch for several minutes. It slowly coaxes your body to release and create space in a non-threatening, non-invasive way. I didn’t even realize that the pain in my back and hip was gone until 2 days after taking the class. I was talking to a client and realized that my back had not hurt for 2 days. I have kept taking weekly classes and the pain has not returned.

What I realized was that while the aggressive approach I took at the beginning of my injury was not necessarily a bad thing, my body needed and craved something more quiet, something more gentle, something more soothing. It didn’t want to be “forced” to heal. And I had been forcing it for months. When I gave it a quiet space to open and release, it responded. I learned that sometimes less effort and less “force” can give you the result you are seeking. We do not live in a world where things move slow. We want results and we want them NOW! I have realized though this experience that the body will respond when the circumstances are right and nothing can be forced.

Be well.

– Barbara Miller, Owner/Massage Therapist – Back to Life Massage & Bodywork