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Pay attention to the pain in your body

By Jackie Castro-Cooper

Do you have pain? Well, that is the way the body lets you know it needs loving care. My
grandmother, born in 1903, always paid attention when her body was in pain. She
would stop what she was doing and immediately do something to address her pain. She
rubbed her aching arm, sat down and placed her hand on her lower back while she
rested and took deep breaths. She would place her hand, icepack or compress on her
head when she had a headache and would go to sleep early when she knew she was not
feeling well. She would find the time to sit quietly and remove herself from the world’s
incessant requests in order to pray/meditate or knit. And she always had time for herbal
teas. She honored and listened to her body.
We do not do this anymore. We are disconnected from our bodies and are not listening
when our body speaks to us. We have learned to ignore our pain and mask it with a pill.
This leads to waiting too long to see a medical practitioner or holistic/naturopath.
Our bodies were physiologically (naturally) made to heal themselves. Without that
connection, awareness and acknowledgement that we can heal ourselves, we tend to
not hear our body’s language of pain. Therefore, it is harder to heal. Poor posture at
work and at home, repetitive motion, sedentary lifestyle, a diet that no longer
resembles how our great-grandparents ate, and stress can cause pressure on connective
tissue (fascia), which in turn restricts movement, which ultimately causes inflammation.
Inflammation increases pressure on nerves, and that causes pain.
The simple act of stopping to actively do something about our pain is the key. Breathe
deeply into the area of pain; place your hand gently for a minimum of five minutes on
the pain region (which begins the anti-inflammatory response called interleukin 8);
stretch gently without forcing that region; adjust your posture to free your spine; stand
and move every 20 minutes; put your swollen, tired legs up at the end of the day. Slowly
breathe in and out and stay in the moment. Soak your feet. Eat more food that grows
from the earth like your great-grandma did and be with loving people. Write in a
journal, laugh, cry, sing, dance, and scream into a pillow. Why not? My grandmother did
— and she lived to the age of 95.

Jackie Castro-Cooper, MPT, has a master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of South Alabama and owns Gulf Coast Myofascial Release Physical Therapy in Ocean Springs. She is one of five John F. Barnes myofascial release physical therapists in Mississippi. She specializes in chronic pain, Intra-Oral TMJ, and women’s health.