When a new patient comes in to my office for a visit, they generally have some kind of acute ailment such as chronic headaches that they want resolved. The manual treatment I provide will help ease or even completely relieve the pain. But it’s also important to ask: what is causing the recurrence of chronic pain?
The most important service I offer my patients is teaching them how to create physical awareness. This helps them become more conscious of how they use their body throughout daily life.
And the most important tool I have to get to this awareness is to simply ask questions. For example, here are some questions I ask about sleep: How do you sleep at night? Do you fall asleep on the sofa before you head to bed? When in bed what physical position do you lay in? Do you grind or clench your teeth at night? Do you grind or clench your teeth during the day?
The majority of my patients are not sure of the answers to these questions on the first visit. But if you are unaware of your daily actions, how can you correct them?
Try This Exercise
I invite you to try an exercise to gain physical awareness of how you are holding your body. When you wake up tomorrow morning, make an inventory:
- How is your head resting on the pillow?
- Is your head turned?
- Is / are your elbow(s) bent?
- Are your legs crossed in a certain position?
Now notice any aches and pains you might have:
- Does your neck feel stiff?
- Is it difficult to straighten out your arm?
- Do your knees ache?
The goal of this exercise is to cultivate your awareness of how you are using your body during sleep, which of course is just one part of your day. (If you’d like to learn more about the connection between sleep and injuries, read this article.) Slowly, you can cultivate this awareness during other parts of your daily life as well. In time this will allow you to be present and conscious of the patterns in your body that may be leading to chronic pain. That presence is a pathway to a healthier life.