What is chronic muscular pain and why is it a problem for so many people?
What causes chronic muscular pain anyway?
Chronic muscular pain can certainly be caused by many factors. But we must put this in it’s proper context. The reason that we suggest that you see your medical doctor first, is that we must rule out some pretty serious conditions that only your medical doctor can rule out. For these conditions time is of the essence and we don’t want you to delay! Before you begin to panic though you should know that in the great majority of cases, chronic muscular pain will not be caused by serious underlying medical conditions but by basic violations of natural law that can only be improved by proper coaching and most importantly by personal development, actions that only you can take!
Why do muscles hurt?
To understand why muscles hurt we must first understand some basics about the human frame. These basics are contained in both the fundamental principles of Tai-Chi-Chuan as our direct lineage explains them and in Neuromuscular Therapy the St. John Method or as it is more modernly known Integrative Neurosomatic Therapy. Use the link if you would like to find out more about this complementary subject and then please be sure to return to us for more information, so that you may fully explain our comprehensive approach to solving this problem!
Principles of Natural Law
- Finding Correct and Efficient Postural Alignment – It is understood as a principle of natural law in both Tai-Chi and St. John Neuromuscular Therapy that your efficiency in opposing gravity during motion has a lot to do with how much tension you hold in your muscles. So simply put your muscles can’t relax until you posture in such a way that your bones do the majority of the work in opposing gravity and your muscles are free to relax until called upon for motion.
- Reducing Excessive Tension – In Neuromuscular Therapy this principle is referred to as “reducing ischemia.” It is St. John’s firm opinion that excessive tension creates areas of the soft tissue where there is a lack of blood flow because of excessive tension. The medical term for this is ischemia and these areas lead as you may expect to muscular pain. In Tai-Chi the name for this principle is “sung.” It translates ” to release excess.” In Tai-Chi one is trained to create movement by releasing muscular tension and allowing this to create power and motion. As you change how you move you will come to a more permanent solution.
- Developing Efficient Biomechanics – You may think of this as posture in motion and creating alignment with objects in your environment(for instance how would you properly lift or push an object and how would you properly bend or sit). In Tai-Chi we refer to this as “coordination of the upper and lower body”. This is the main reason why we practice Tai-Chi in slow motion. If you watch closely as someone lifts an object or hits a baseball or whatever, you will notice that they organize their body into myotactic units to perform each function. These muskuloskelatal units have tactics of motion that they use to create the most motion with the minimum of tension. The key word here is Timing. If the combination of muscles moves with proper timing each muscle will contract in such a way as to ad to the power or force being generated by the combined unit. Thus we end up with more force, less tension. But when someone is inefficient in their motion, the muscles of the upper and lower body will organize in such a way as to partially oppose the combined motion of the unit. This will lead to less force more tension. This also leads to chronic muscular pain.
- Maximizing Potential Space in the Body – In Neuromuscular Therapy we discuss this principle as Nerve Entrapment vs. Nerve Compression. Nerve entrapment is when the soft tissue structures of the body entrap a nerve and cause dysfunction. Nerve compression is when bones or osseous structures compress a nerve usually at the nerve root. A common example of this would be the bulging of a disc. This principle has long been recognized in Tai-Chi by the governing principles of Differentiating Yin and Yang or Differentiating Substantial and Insubstantial. We could fill a book easily on the implications of these two fundamental principles but in this context we are discussing the balance between solid structure and open space in the body. Obviously we need a balance if we didn’t have solid structure the body couldn’t maintain its form and without space the nerves would not get messages to where they need to go to sustain the body. When the body starts to lose this balance you will lose health for the person.
These are the foundational principles. The correlation between the timeless principles of “natural law” found in the ancient martial arts throughout the world and the modern principles found in 21st century fitness technology like St. John Neuromuscular Therapy have been a focus of my professional life. This was brought together as my Sifu and I copyrighted a video on the subject in 1993. That year we “taught the teachers” at a taste of China in Virginia and were published in Tai-Chi Journal on the subject of Tai-Chi Rehab. Below I will discuss the Pastorella Health & Fitness Aproach to chronic muscular pain in a step by step manner!
Step #1 – Get Checked Out By Your Doctor!
Simply put we have no idea what kind of health that you are currently in. For everyone interested in health and fitness there is only one logical first step. Don’t procrastinate go and get a checkup from your family doctor right where you live. If you don’t have a family doctor, now is a great time to find one that is in line with your personal goals. I want to emphasize that this should be someone that is close so that you have access to them in a crisis. You may be thinking Wow! this physical training stuff is more dangerous than I thought. These guys are checking me out like I’m headed to “stunt man school.” Nothing could be further from the truth! It is my firm belief that there is nothing more dangerous then to sit home and do nothing. That being said, let’s do everything that we can to make this a successful experience. If you end up with a medical issue, your doctor will help you through it and then you can begin training and beat your Chronic Muscular Pain! After you have checked in with your own doctor, you may decide to get some more specific advice from our group of affiliated doctors.
Check out our Ask a Doctor post.
Step #1a – The Spiritual Element of Overcoming Chronic Muscular Pain
What my spiritual life has something to do with my ability to overcome Chronic Muscular Pain ? This is news to me! This is the response of many and that’s why so few people are successful in this undertaking! Beating Muscular Pain is the same as winning in any battle in that it begins with a burning desire for change and improvement! This requires you to examine your motivations, your core convictions and goals. These subjects lead back to what I would call the core vocational question, Why am I here? What is my true purpose? What is my ultimate destiny? Where does the true joy in life really come from? We will answer these questions in great deal in our Biblical Health Systems section. How does the answers to these questions affect my Health? When you are fighting your way back to peak Health, the most important question is why? Healthy to do what? Peak health allows you to have more of life, but what is your life about? Getting straight on what is really important to you, will give you the necessary drive to maximize your health so that you can maximize the rest of your life. Trust me, my goal is not to change your religion but instead I would like to remind you of the basics of your spiritual life that directly impact your health and well-being. Let’s develop a healthy motivation that allows you to enjoy the exhilarating process of moving toward your hopes and dreams.
Step #2 – Massage Therapy: Break the Cycle of Pain
In our opinion, one of the best ways that you can break the cycle of chronic muscular pain is through the use of massage therapy. Massage Therapy is a very broad subject. There are many exceptional methods of massage therapy that I will discuss on my massage therapy page, but today I will discuss the methods that I personally have trained in. My training in massage therapy began with Shiatsu and Deep Tissue Massage at Health Options Institute. This was a natural crossover of my Oriental Martial Arts training. My training at Health Options was an excellent base of knowledge to begin my exploration of Holistic Health and I am grateful for the excellent training that I received there. As I progressed toward a more advanced understanding of the body, I was introduced to the St. John Method of Neuromuscular Therapy modernly known also as Integrative Neurosomatic Therapy. This method approaches the body through both a structural and functional point of view. It became one of our core modalities and profoundly improved our understanding of movement and ancient martial art modalities as well as touch systems of healing. As my practice progressed, it became necessary to have a health system available that had almost no contraindications but was also almost universally beneficial to people with difficult health conditions. Reflexology was the timeless system of health that I was looking for. George Balut and Dave Jenkins were the coaches from the International Institute of Reflexology that I needed to mentor me in this awesome health system. These systems of Massage Therapy have helped me to help many to overcome long time chronic muscular pain. Please check out our Massage Therapy page for more information on how to use massage therapy for your benefit.
Step #3 – Begin Tai-Chi Practice
To eliminate Chronic Muscular Pain you must reduce stress, correct posture and body mechanics and teach the individual to move with minimum tension. Tai-Chi is one of the few arts that successfully teaches all of that. In its initial phase of training Tai-Chi trains efficient posture and teaches an individual to reduce physical stress. It also teaches moderation and begins to teach individuals not to depend on food to fill psychological or spiritual needs.
Tai-Chi by its nature completely involves individuals in the present moment. This focus on the present leads us away from worry and fear which are generally in the past and future. As you reduce both physical and mental stressors, you will find that you begin to eliminate chronic muscular pain at its root! After this initial phase of training, you can then move toward improving other lifestyle attributes of normalizing flexibility, developing balanced strength and cardiovascular endurance. Welcome to the world of a “Life Athlete.” If you accept this challenge, I firmly believe that your life will never be the same!
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