67A Henry Street, San Francisco, Ca 94114
Where You Feel It, Is Where It Ain’t
Hold tension in your shoulders, neck and back?
As Ida Rolf, Founder of Rolfing/Structural Integration used to say,
“Where You Feel It, Is Where It Ain’t!”
One of the things I’ve learned in my 8 years of bodywork practice is that, more often than not, the pathways to healing are often not linear.
A good portion of the challenge can be in the ambiguity of the signals our bodies are sending and our ability to interpret what those signals actually mean. Really, how many of us are taught to distinguish the subtleties between feeling: stiff, sore, fatigue, spasm, tight, cramped, adhered, locked, overstretched, and other states? Mostly what we know is that we’re uncomfortable and we want that bit to stop!
What I come across most frequently is the perception that “THERE” is where the discomfort/pain is located, so therefore “THERE” is where the problem must be.
This is usually accompanied by a lot of self-work, icing, rubbing, heat, desperate poking with sticks, and other means that doesn’t really seem to alleviate the problem for long, though they may feel good in the moment.
Often, the source of discomfort is from a case of a chronic imbalance and subsequent fatigue within the body.
This frequently happens when muscles learn (or are taught) to live “short” and pull the body out of its happy place of alignment. These muscles are in an unaware lock down, and the poor muscles opposing this imbalance are constantly pulling against these stubborn, immobile partners. The working muscles hurt because, well, they’re tired! This is why I will frequently want to explore the opposite side of the body from the described problem. It can feel counter-intuitive, and yield effective results.
Other times, my clients and I will discuss the pain place as the part that’s “downhill” from where the actual source lives.
This can occur with some instances that feel like “tendinitis” or even “arthritis” in which there’s a problem in the meaty part of the muscle that sends a constant “tugging” signal through the tendon to the attachment points at the joint, causing irritation there.
It can also be experienced through neurologic or fascia (connective tissue) referral – and there can be a lot of overlap between the two – where a binding of tissue is felt in and affects areas a good distance away, highlighting the binding web of connections in the body. Occasionally that feeling in your toe really IS directly related to that thing in your hip!
None of this is meant to imply that you shouldn’t talk about where it hurts.
You definitely should! There are some situations in which where you feel it IS exactly where it is, and exploring that area is just what’s needed. In most others, it’s still a vital piece of information, a powerful clue on the body map that begins the journey to discover what’s needed to make your body a happy place to occupy!