I admit I got a little sidetracked in response to yesterday’s question, “Are our bodies just like this, or do we do this to ourselves”…
Today I want to respond to that question more generally, not just in regard to neck and shoulder pain and tension (see previous posting). The short answer is, both contribute. We may be born with and certainly can evolve into alignment patterns that are often the starting point for later difficulties. Our bodies are INCREDIBLY adaptive to our changing circumstances, and one can compensate for slight curvatures of the spine, forward head posture, a slightly tilted pelvis, a leg length discrepancy…etc… for a very long time, very effectively.These compensations usually result in muscle and fascial imbalance as our bodies continually adjust to keep us upright and functional. Over time, we can and do create elaborate systems to maintain these imbalances because we don’t necessarily know there is any other way to do it.
I can attest to this dilemma. About ten years ago, I was trying to create a program called “A Life in Balance”. As I was working out the details of just how I wanted the program to be, I realized with astounding clarity that my own body was hopelessly and desperately out of balance. For countless years I had driven myself hard to push on despite injuries and surgeries, to perform at a a high level in all things, to bear pain,to ignore pain, and the layers of complexity of coping reached a critical point where my body no longer was able to keep it up. I was put in a place of intense conflict…trying to create a program for others that addressed the very issue that I so clearly did not have at all in my own body…balance. I took a literal three year hiatus from much of life to deal with these issues, and it has been a seven year journey back to a state much closer to equilibrium.
I am NOT suggesting you wait that long or let things go that far. The price I paid was enormous, as was the personal growth that resulted! Regardless, and the point here is, there are hands we are dealt in life that are both structurally challenging and life circumstantially challenging, and how we deal these hands makes a difference in how we are in our existence at any given point. Often we can go along for a VERY long time compensating and getting by, and then something happens to bring our awareness to the reality that the situation may not be optimal. This can be an injury, “throwing our back out”, or just becoming fed up with the same ongoing pain and stress manifested in our bodies. It is at that point where we have choice as to what to do, and often that is the point at which self-care comes in to play and people may find themselves on the massage table asking the very question my client asked yesterday!