Take the focus away from pain for a moment, and get curious about the patterns underneath. Habits, thoughts, behaviours and unconscious responses to daily stress all lead to one thing - TENSION. The brain has been continually responding to everything you've thought, felt and done in your life, and the result is ALWAYS movement. Think about it - you cannot not move! Your brain tells your muscles to contract, and overtime learns to keep your muscles in a state of contraction because of repetition. Your muscles are being held that way by your brain, and you've adapted to it. This is what the brain does...until you tell it otherwise.
I don't believe in quick fixes for pain (although I do think the right actions can get you results quickly)
I'm proof you can always re-learn to use your body more intelligently no matter what you've been through (or what stage of life you're at). I think we should be doing this we get older not just give in or give up.
You can tinker away at different parts of the body by doing this exercise or trying that therapy, but unless you can understand the role of your brain, you'll always be trying to fix the problem from the outside (and you'll never really know yourself).
I'll show you the opposite - a simple educational process that changes your brain from the inside and gives you an entirely different perspective on everything.
Like most, I've had my fair share of accidents, injuries and stressful life events. I won't bore you with a list but my 'problem' started after I injured my hip doing kickboxing in my late 20's. What should have been a relatively minor situation became an ongoing battle with my body (and mind) for the next 15 years.
I went backwards and forwards pushing through pain and expecting it to sort itself out, to nursing another injury, to another attempt to find help - this thing dragged on and on. Apart from a bit of relief, nothing really helped and as more time went by, it became a real thing in my life.
I’d given up running and swapped from teaching exercise to yoga, but it wasn’t changing my pain. Even with plenty of strength and flexibility, my hips and lower back hurt most of the time. And even though I was constantly recommended to, no amount of stretching, squatting or pilates changed that. So there I was, happily standing on my head and touching my toes no problem, but I couldn't easily get up from the floor and walking was more of a hobble.
Apart from all that I had a pretty good understanding of yoga philosophy and a meditation practice that help me tolerate and accept these things - but I still wanted to be out of pain and back to walking freely. My gut was telling me I was missing something but I just didn’t know what.
When I first came across 'Somatics' - the work of Thomas Hanna phD in 2014, something clicked. (He used the phrase 'Somatics' to represent his work in neuromuscular movement education, also known as Clinical or Hanna Somatic Education). It made the most sense about what I was experiencing, but more importantly why I was experiencing it.
Up to that point I had never learned how the nervous system works and why that is so relevant to pain-free movement.
I quickly realised how my brain had adapted to keep my muscles in a pattern of involuntary contraction in response to my injury, and how it was outside of my conscious control. Add to that my continued, somewhat forced activity plus the stresses of everyday life, and there was a gradually learned pattern of involuntary tension.
I threw myself into Hanna's Somatic Education and began to restore voluntary control of my muscles and movement. For the first time I learned to sense my body entirely differently and my awareness began to change. My biggest win was hope, and from this point I knew I could get better.
BUT...old habits die hard. I was used to overriding, pushing through and unconsciously avoiding. I didn't recognise the emotional piece and my deep desire to 'fix' was still keeping my nervous system on high alert.
When I looked again at the psychological aspect of pain I came to realise I had conjured up a lot of fear, shame, doubt and hopelessness and that my symptoms were also an expression of past and current thinking. My thoughts and emotions were also keeping me stuck. Once I got this I quickly shifted out of these patterns too.
It took patience and persistence but I move better now than I did at 40 and even 30 - with more awareness and less effort! I'm stronger with better posture and walk comfortably for an hour or two most days. I continue my own learning and never take my health for granted.
My own experience is what drives my empathic approach with my clients - it's a big part of why people work with me. They tell me they feel reassured and encouraged after our sessions, and always eager to peel away the next layer.
I’m trained as a Clinical Somatic Educator, meaning I’ve taken a 3-year deep dive into the world of Hanna Somatic Education, working hands-on with clients as well as leading classes and workshops. I also have nearly 20 years of teaching experience in yoga, mindfulness and mediation - which is still part of my daily life and at the heart of everything I do. And going back further to what feels like a previous life, I spent a few years teaching exercise and fitness.
Being able to see where people are being held by their nervous system and then coaching them to feel and experience it for themselves is my zone of genius.