You have probably seen or heard the phrases “never do this” or “x activity is so bad for you”. When you see articles or people say phrases like this, they do in fact mean well. However, these statements can also create something called “fear avoidance”, which is like a subconscious protective mechanism.
As a result, movements and the body becomes stiffer; and then a stiffer body can lead to more pain because everything is on high alert. This fear avoidance can be helpful in the early stages of recovery (within the first 6 weeks), but afterwards, if the fear is still there, it can prevent the body from moving the way it should.
I recently had a client whose pain was relieved with forward bending, but their pain was worse when sitting. When we took a deeper dive into the sitting position, it turned out that the back was extremely arched as they were trying to sit as upright as possible. But, if their pain was relieved with a forward bend, then this arch position may be the irritating factor.
When I presented this scenario to the client, they were fearful, as they were told to “never” slouch. They were concerned about making their pain worse. However, it is important to let your symptoms be your guide and provide an opportunity to help you find relief. That means for this client, if forward bending felt good, then most likely the slouching position would be helpful too, as compared to sitting as arched as possible. We gave them permission to slouch, and broke free from that fear avoidance behavior. As a result, they had pain relief and were able to enjoy sitting again.
This method can be applied to any other scenario. So if you are fearful of a specific motion because you were told that you should never do an activity; take a step back and see what are the limiting factors? Does this motion/activity truly increase your pain? Or does it relieve your pain. If it increases your pain, then for sure modify or eliminate that from the your day for now. If it improves your pain, then you have permission to do more of it. Because, your relief will guide your interventions.
A way to break from the fear of pain, is giving yourself some room to explore and see what feels the best.
If you need help finding the right positions, exercises or stretches to help you, book a free call with us today.
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