Chronic pain is not all in your head, chronic pain is not all in your body
For those who have been told that the pain is all in their heads, know that there is a bodily and physiological component to your experience.
For those who have been told they just have tight muscles and need to work on strength and posture, know that there is a mindset and emotional component to your experience.
We have a better understanding of pain than ever before from a neuroscience perspective. And yet so many people are dismissed by practitioners because their pain doesn’t go away with traditional treatment.
Know that you are a whole person. Know that your chronic pain experience is real, complex, and messy. Know that there are ways to support your whole self and see your whole self, even in the depths of flares and frustration.
We cannot heal the mind without addressing the body. We cannot heal the body without addressing the mind.
This Episode’s Guest
Marysa is a physical therapist and a mind-body therapy practitioner. She believes a core pillar of the healing process is deepening our relationship with our bodies and learning how to work with our own unique energies, emotions, and bodily states.
She helps people through the process of learning the language of their body, utilizing intuitive movement, somatic processing, and nervous system education to move through their current existence into a more embodied and anchored way of being.
- FREE: Body Awareness Journaling Guide
- FREE: Hack Your Nervous System with Cold Plunges
- Follow Marysa on Instagram
- The Way Out: A Revolutionary, Scientific Approach to Healing Chronic Pain by Alan Gordon
In this episode with physical therapist and mind-body practitioner Dr. Marysa Meyer, we…
- share Marysa’s love for sleuthing out and helping heal chronic pain for people who’ve “tried everything”
- share why people deal with chronic pain through the lens of the nervous system (hint: chronic pain is a nervous system response and NOT necessarily indicative of pathology or structural issues)
- discuss the very unique expression of symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system, including chronic pain
- discuss attachment — to pain, identity, and outcomes
- share the profound usefulness of slow, gentle, subtle movements for body connection, nervous system regulation, and healing
- talk about the importance of finding an anchor to help sit with chronic pain
Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. I apologize for not publishing. A new episode. Last week, I have been in the process of creating a brand new group program called nervous system hygiene. And I just didn’t have time to get to the podcast. So here we are this week, um, What else is new in my life. Oh, so a couple of weeks ago I taught my nervous system 1 0 1 workshop. It was the second time teaching this workshop.
Um, it was a sold out workshop, again, over a hundred people bought tickets and I just love educating about the nervous system and learning about the nervous system was so. Huge for my own journey. And I feel like so many of the things that were inaccessible to me. Prior to learning about my nervous system and how to work with my nervous system to heal my body.
Um, I just feel like a lot of things were inaccessible to me and through nervous system work so much has opened up and my world has gotten so much more expansive. And I’ve experienced. I feel exponentially fast. Healing in my mind and my body. As I’ve learned to work with and take care of my nervous system. And so I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago.
A a real, um, and it was a fast motion, real, um, And our time-lapse that’s what it’s called. Time will have snot fast motion. Um, I posted a time-lapse reel of doing my own nervous system hygiene practice. Because I was creating a new one for myself and I was inspired to create a new nervous system hygiene practice.
From working with the guest on today’s podcast. And I can’t wait to introduce her to you, but I want to finish telling this story first. So, anyway, I posted this reel about creating my own new nervous system hygiene practice. And I got so much response from people being like, can you teach me how to create my own nervous system hygiene practice? This is something that I need to know.
And it just felt like the right time to offer this program was right on the heels of the nervous system. 1 0 1 workshop. And so that’s what I’m doing. Um, It’s actually too late now for you guys who are listening now to sign up for it, but I will be teaching nervous system 1 0 1 workshop again, probably in April. And I’ll be doing another round of nervous system hygiene after that workshop. So stay tuned. And if you’re not on my email list,
That really is the best way to stay in touch with me and learn of any new offerings or programs or even open coaching spots that I have available. The email list is the way to go. So if you would like to join my email list, I will say thank you by giving you a free training on how to hack your nervous system with cold plunges.
And the link for that training is below linked in the show notes. So check that out, get on the email list, and if you’re interested in any of my offerings in the future, That is going to be the best place for you to learn about those things. All right with that said, I cannot wait to get into today’s episode. I have with me, my real life friend, who I met through Instagram and we have since started a friendship and we have hung out in real life a couple of times, and we stay in touch on Voxer. And it’s just been a really special addition to have Marissa in my life.
So Marissa Meyer is a physical therapist and a mind body practitioner. She believes a core pillar of the healing process is deepening. Our relationship with our bodies and learning how to work with our own unique energies, emotions and bodily states. She helps people through the process of. Of learning the language of their body, utilizing intuitive movement, somatic processing, and nervous system education to move through their current existence, into a more embodied and anchored way of being.
And in today’s episode. Marissa, and I are going to be talking a lot about chronic pain. And the nervous system, um, we’re sharing Marissa’s interest in solutioning out the difficult cases. She talks in the episode about loving to work with people who have tried everything and have really, um, You know, issues that aren’t low hanging fruit as she calls them.
Um, we share why people deal with chronic pain through the lens of the nervous system. We discussed the very unique expression of symptoms, including chronic pain. When the nervous system is dysregulated. We talk about attachment to pain, identity outcomes, and more. We share the profound usefulness of slow, gentle, subtle movements and my own experience with Marissa teaching me some slow gentle, subtle movements was actually what inspired me to revamp my nervous system hygiene practice.
So we’re talking about that. We’re also talking about the difference between global muscles and stabilizing muscles, which was really important for me to learn. And we’re talking about finding an anchor to help sit with chronic pain. Um, so this is a really special episode for me, for personal reasons, as well as.
Uh, podcast reasons because I’ve never talked about chronic pain and the nervous system. And I think Marissa and I are going to continue teaching about chronic pain and the nervous system. We have some exciting things in the works that I can’t wait to share with you in the future. But until then, I hope you enjoy this episode. I hope it supports you, especially if you or someone, you know, is living with chronic pain. I believe this episode.
We’ll not only give you a greater understanding of chronic pain through the lens of your nervous system, but also hope that it is possible to recover. Even if you’ve been in pain for a really long time so enjoy
Hello, Marissa. Welcome to the holistic trauma healing podcast. Hi Lindsay. I’m super excited to be here. Thanks for having me. Yeah. I’m really excited for you to be here too. So I just want to tell people who are listening that you and I actually know each other in person and we’re real life friends. And we met on Instagram though.
So that’s really fun. And the reason we met was because this last summer I was posting about this. So as right hip, right low back pain that I’ve had for almost three years now. So everyone who listens to the podcast regularly is like really familiar with me talking about this issue. And, um, you. Took an interest in my issue.
Um, do you want to talk about why you were so interested in it and just like what your work is in physical therapy? Um, because I know you’re not just like an ordinary physical therapist. I know. Um, your approach is like really specific and that you, you love a challenge of chronic issues. So can you talk about that?
Yeah. Yeah, no, I am always really interested when people start talking about something that they’ve tried, everything to fix that just hasn’t gotten butter because usually, you know, the low hanging fruit things that other providers might have address. In sort of that initial evaluation of that person, um, are probably resolved.
Right? So, so what’s going on is a lot deeper usually. And, um, that’s where I love to love to sleep around. And I love to kind of play in that, in that zone. And, and so I’ve always been really interested in chronic. Conditions sort of, because of that, I’m really interested in, um, the, the issues beyond just the physical presentation of someone’s body, um, that contribute to, to things like pain and to things like, um, like bodily discomforts.
And so when you were talking about your hip, I like had to have all the information because I wanted to know that like all that low-hanging fruit had been addressed because. Then it’d be kind of fun to see, you know, what, what could it be? Because there are so many reasons why people, people deal with chronic pain regularly.
Yeah. So what are some of the reasons why people deal with chronic? Yeah. Um, I would say one of the biggest things is sort of what you, what you talk about and what you preach about all the time is nervous. The nervous system, um, chronic pain is usually a function of some sort of nervous system. Misfiring essentially, um, our body is sensing a threat.
Um, it’s saying something like tissue damage or, um, something that could potentially harm our bodies, um, when there might not even be. That sort of damage that’s occurring. So our body’s getting the signal to, to, you know, respond a certain way to protect, to, um, withdraw essentially from some sort of stimulus.
And usually the stimulus is, is benign. It’s not something that’s necessarily going to harm us. And so that nervous system dysregulation can cause us to be perceiving pain when there might not necessarily be. Any sort of damage there to begin with. So, um, yes, I am. I am very aware of nervous system dysregulation presenting with chronic pain sometimes.
Um, it also like another symptom of nervous system dysregulation is anxiety and panic attacks. Another symptom is like, like pots, postural, orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. Another symptom is like digestive issues, right? So there’s like all these like crazy. Manifestations of nervous system dysregulation and our body.
Do you have any insight on why for some people it’s digestive issues and for other people it’s anxiety and for other people it’s chronic pain. Do you know why some people end up with certain things when other people end up with other things? Yeah. I mean, that’s a really good question and I haven’t thought about it in that much depth to be totally honest.
I feel like, um, Our bodies might be kind of predisposed to certain things that maybe from our past, maybe from our childhood, maybe, you know, the way that we move, the way that we kind of function in our world, predisposes us to have little areas of. Of weakness or little areas that might be, um, a little bit more vulnerable to certain things.
So like for me, I, my, my nervous system speaks to me in digestion. Like I always have issues with digestion when my nervous system is out of whack. And, um, I had a lot of, um, issues as a kid with digestion and was kind of on a lot of medications for it. Well on antibiotics. Um, a lot of, um, like I think it was born jaundice, so I have some like liver dysfunction, you know, that just, I was I’m I think I’m just predisposed to some more GI issues.
Um, and I think if people who have chronic pain, they might have some things in their movement that. That’s under predisposes them to, you know, the body like the joints, the muscles, that kind of stuff. Being, being what is vulnerable in their body. So maybe they stand in a certain way that puts stress on a certain area, or maybe they, um, are used to participate in a certain movement that was really hard on their bodies or in a score or something like that, that tacks their body in a certain way.
And so they have these little vulnerabilities that. Once that nervous system is a little bit jacked up. That’s kind of the first thing kind of the first thing to fall. Yeah. It’s like the chink in the armor. Yeah, exactly. Where is your weakness? And, and that’s sort of where, where a lot of that stuff manifests.
Yeah. So what’s so weird for me is, as you’re saying that I’m like nodding my head, like yes, yes, yes. And then at the same time, when you brought up. Like as a child, you were born with jaundice and you had a lot of digestive issues as a kid. And so maybe you’re just predisposed to experience nervous system dysregulation in your gut.
It got me thinking about, well, what are some of the things that I was predisposed to as a kid or that I was dealing with? So I had digestive issues as a kid that I do not have now. I mean, I was a chronically constipated little kid and when I was. Nine or something I started having, I mean, this is going to sound really funny.
Um, I called them my egg burps. So some like randomly at times for like literally, probably three or four years of my childhood. Um, every once in a while I would just get these burps and they would be like these little burps that just like came at pretty regular intervals and they tasted like rotten eggs.
And to this day, I still have no idea what that was from. Um, I remember my mom taking me to the GP and he prescribed me. I’m pretty sure it was a, uh, an asset blocker. I’m pretty sure he decided that it was some form of like heartburn or acid reflux. Um, and I would take those, like whenever I experienced this and I think it probably helped.
And then at a certain point, I just, it just quit happening. Like it just stopped. But then, um, years later, like 20 years later. Yeah. I don’t even know what I ate or drank or what happened, but like I remember waking up in the middle of the night and my stomach just hurting really bad. And like, I sat up in bed and as soon as I sat up, just the emotion of sitting up, like pushed the, the air out of my lungs and I let out this gigantic burp that like tasted and smelled like rotten eggs.
I was like, oh my God. It’s happening again, except for this bin. Now, if it ever happens to me as an adult, which is very, very, very, very rare. I mean, it has not happened in years, but from like age, probably 27 to like 34, maybe once a year. I would, I would have this thing, but it was when I was a kid, it was these little tiny Burks, like, like that that’s an adult.
It happens when I’m like asleep in bed. And then I wait, I like wake up and sit up and it forces this giant. I know this has nothing to do with chronic pain or nervousness and stuff or whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that. I, I don’t have digestive issues now. And I don’t remember having any kind of unaddressed or unsolved.
Pain or injury or whatever when I was a kid. So it’s just weird to me that if I had this weird digestive thing and I was on a lot of antibiotics as a kid, too, I mean, we had a, I don’t know about you, but we had a, you know, a bottle of pink amoxicillin, like bubblegum flavor to moxa cylin in the refrigerator at all times.
And like, if one of us got like a stuffy nose or something, my mom would just be like, take a swig. And we would just literally drink the amoxicillin out of the bottle. So that was, that was fantastic for my gut. I’m sure. Um, but yeah, it’s just weird to me because what you’re saying about being predisposed to it, because that was kind of a pattern of your childhood, it makes so much sense to me, but for me with this weird hip thing, um, I don’t remember anything like that as a kid.
So. As much as it makes sense to me, I’m just like, oh man, I don’t feel it. I don’t feel like that’s it. Right. Right. And that’s the thing. So like we have these really like logical ways of explaining why chronic pain might exist. But the reality is is that like, if we actually pretend that we know why chronic pain exists, like we’re just lying to ourselves because it’s so much more complex than what we.
To make it out to be, we like these really neat explanations of why someone’s in pain or why someone has gut issues. They have, you know, they have seatbelt, they have, you know, H pylori, they have whatever it is, you know, or you have chronic pain because you sit with crappy posture. Like those, those explanations make sense.
And sometimes. The body speaks to us in a really, you know, our own individual bodies speak to us in really unique ways. So what might make sense for our like logical brain might not be how our body, our body doesn’t necessarily fit into that box. Our body doesn’t really know logic. So it’s going to communicate with us in a way it’s going to communicate with us and part of the.
And the process of uncovering why someone might have chronic pain is really this deep dive into how their individual body communicates with them and trying to figure out what is your body trying to tell you with this symptom that might be unexplained by conventional or even alternative medicine?
Yeah. So I mean, what I’m hearing is that. You don’t necessarily have to have like an injury or some kind of structural thing going on to experience chronic pain. Um, and that it might even be like an anomaly. Why? Yeah. Three different people that all have bad posture. One of them has chronic pain and the other two don’ts.
Who knows. Right? Exactly. They’ve done all sorts of studies about like people they take people’s imaging. So like, they’ll do an MRI on someone’s back. Um, and someone who has a really horrible, you know, spine on this image. So like there’s a lot of degeneration or there’s a disc issue or whatever. That person, the, the amount that, that image correlates with that person’s pain is so low, um, that really the images aren’t, aren’t even really predictive of, of someone’s pain.
Um, so people will come in to, you know, see a physical therapist and they’ll say, well, yeah, I have this, this, this, and this, and they’ll list off 10 things that their doctor told them showed up on their MRI. And. And there it’s not predictive of what their pain should be, you know, so they could have that horrible image and have horrible pain.
They could have that image and have no pain at all. There’s another study where they’ve looked at cadavers over that are over the age of 80 and every single one of them has a rotator cuff tear. It’s like a hundred percent. Have some kind of tear in the rotator cuff and not 100% of 80 year olds have shoulder pain.
So really pain is, so it is somewhat linked to pathology, but it’s not, it’s not super predictive. Actually, if you have specific tissue damage that your body’s going to communicate you via be a pain signal. Um, so it requires so much more nuance than so much more exploration of. Of someone’s unique bottling messages to really get to the root of why, why you might be in pain.
Yeah, I agree. And I, do you remember whenever we met for breakfast back in October, and I was telling you about the book that I had just finished reading called the way out and it was okay. So I’m going to link to that in the show notes for people. Cause it was epic. Um, but he also, he says exactly what you just said, which is like imaging is not an indicator of.
Of pain and somebody could have something structurally wrong on an image and have no pain. And somebody could have something structurally wrong on an image and not have pain in that part of their body, but they have pain in somewhere else, or they have nothing structurally wrong on their image, but they still have pain.
Um, and that, that is like, definitely my story. I mean, back in October, I finally after two and, you know, Three quarters years of this. Um, I finally was like, maybe I should just go with, get an MRI. Like I probably should just go see, because I, at that point I had been seeing. Physical therapist I’d been to the chiropractor.
I had been doing things like, like walking, uh, foam, rolling stretching, uh, pelvic floor work. Like I had been doing all kinds of things, trying tumeric. I even like experimented with myself. It took a couple of days in a row, took like a really high dose of ibuprofen to see like, if I could call me inflammation that way.
Did absolutely nothing. Like I might as well take a nothing. Um, so finally I was like, okay, like, I’m going to go get an MRI. So I go get the MRI and the results come back in. It was literally like, there’s nothing remarkable on this MRI, nothing. And that’s the best news. Right. But it’s also the most frustrating, I mean, it’s invalidating, right?
It’s I think that’s what. Biggest issues with that is, is people have this, this persistent and frustrating pain. And then tests come back negative, you know, where there’s nothing that a doctor can, can show you that proves that why you should have pain. And it’s super invalidating. And I’ve worked with so many people who have dealt with practitioners who say, you know, the pain is all in your head and, and while there’s like there there’s pain that comes from your nervous system, which is part of your head like that pain is still.
Right. That pain is still incredibly real. And you deserve to have someone listen and work with you to uncover how you can navigate that, how you can navigate that chronic pain that you’re still experiencing, because negative MRI doesn’t, doesn’t get rid of pain. Know it doesn’t. I mean, I was at the point where it was like, You know, so, you know, my story, I had a suicide attempt in 2019, and I checked myself into the psych hospital like first day.
And that was like one of the greatest acts of surrender that I’ve ever. Like had ever, and honestly, I had gotten to the point in this pain, in my hip, where if the MRI showed something, I was ready to be like, okay, fine. I’ll I’ll get a cortisol shot. Like I was ready. I was just ready to surrender and be like, okay, maybe I can’t solve.
Naturally, maybe I can’t solve this through physical therapy or stretching or chiropractic or myofascial massage. That was another thing that I did a lot of like, okay, maybe I can’t, maybe I just have to surrender. And like, I ideally I don’t want a cortisol shot, but if that gets me some relief, I’m willing to do it.
And then the damn MRI came back and, and they called me and they were like, it’s unremarkable. And I was. So that means I can’t even get a cortisol shot. Does it? They were like, yup. There’s we don’t even know where we would put the cortisol cortisone shot. Sorry. Yeah. Um, yeah, it was really, really frustrating.
Yeah. Yeah. And it can feel really hopeless too. When, when those things come back negative, you know, and there’s no inflammation indicated even, or there’s, you know, no, there’s really nothing. Um, it feels like there’s no like problem to be fixed. Like the problem hasn’t been identified. So there’s no solution, there’s no cortisone shot.
There’s no surgery. There’s no, you know, medication, you know, necessarily that a doctor’s going to give you because they don’t see the problem. Right. You have a problem. And that’s, you know, their training, right? Where if you know, you come in and there’s nothing surgical to fix the, surgeon’s going to say, well, I don’t know what to do.
Yeah. And, and that’s really hard to hear as a patient or as a client that there’s nothing that you can do about. It’s very, it’s it? I mean, that hopelessness is, I think part of like a huge contributing factor to why people have chronic pain and that invalidation too, I think, is a huge contributing factor to why people have chronic pain.
Yeah. And it’s also kind of perplexing to me that this chronic pain for me appeared while I. Learning how to work with my nervous system. So it’s been really interesting to experience such a reduction or even a complete elimination of like some of the old weird symptoms I used to have. Um, like I don’t even think I qualify for like my mental health diagnoses anymore.
Like, I don’t think I qualify for generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder anymore. You know, I’ve gone like almost three years now with no. Panic attacks. I don’t think, I think that means I don’t have a panic disorder anymore, you know? Um, so I’ve, I’ve worked through so much like anxiety and panic with nervous system work.
I’ve managed to heal any like. Lingering digestive things that I used to have back when I was in wellness culture and thought I was allergic to gluten and dairy. Um, we all, yeah, we’ve all been, we’re all allergic to gluten and dairy in the wellness world. Um, I’ve, you know, I’ve experienced like the resolution.
Uh, pain and other areas of my body, like hormone imbalances. I mean, my cycles have gotten healthier. My PMs has gone down. My brain fog has gotten better. Like I’ve just experienced so much improvement that like, it’s such a weird thing to me, that, to have all of these other nervous system related issues.
Either like completely resolve or improve significantly. And then to have this new thing, like pop up in the middle of all of that work it’s oh, yes. It’s so frustrating. Right. And, and it can feel very much so like, you know, like I’ve done all the right things. I’ve done it all. You know, I checked off all the boxes and this thing is still here.
And I think that’s where, like that curious exploration of it, you know, is, is huge. And I know you, you do a lot of that where, you know, you, you approach it with that curiosity, you approach it with the, you know, what is my body trying to tell me? Um, I do know, but to be honest, I don’t feel like I’m very good at translating those messages when it’s like an active issue.
It was the same whenever I had anxiety. I mean, I knew the whole time my body is trying to tell me something, but like, honestly, I have an emotional attachment to the outcome of. You know, like, just like I had an emotional attachment to the outcome of like wanting to heal anxiety, you know, like, so it’s hard for me when I have an emotional attachment to the outcome of something it’s really hard for me to listen to the messages that my body is telling me, and then translate them in a way that isn’t biased towards my emotional attachment.
Does that mean. Yeah, absolutely. And I actually think there was something that you had said a while ago about being attached to almost the identity of having pain too, or the identity of having something to fix. And I noticed that with a lot of people where they’ll get really far in their healing and there’ll be like one thing that their body’s like still clinging onto and like one issue that just won’t go away or that keeps kind of rearing its ugly head.
And that’s usually the question that we eventually get to asking, you know, it’s, it’s not always the best thing to ask for way, but, um, for those who are ready for it, um, it’s a really beautiful question to ask is like, you know, what, what are, what are you, if you lost this pain, if this pain went away, like, what would that mean?
What would that mean to you? What, what identities have you tied to this symptom, to this, you know, to this, um, And this pain is whatever you’re navigating. What, what identity are you set up to lose when this goes away? Um, and a lot of people when they’re there in that space of not having a problem to fix.
They don’t, they don’t know how to exist in that space. Like they’ve lived for fixing problems. Our society is built people who are really good at fixing problems, but we’re not that good. Even sitting with like the absence of those sorts of things or. Sitting with our problems and not trying to fix them.
And I think that’s what some of those N and stage like last, last lingering symptoms sometimes can indicate is, you know, you’re stepping into this really new, really scary often version of yourself that, that you might not be ready for. And that’s okay if you’re not right before that’s okay. But it’s kind of that acknowledgement that.
That you are setting yourself up to lose an identity with the loss of this symptom that I think people kind of fail to recognize that that’s actually really, really fucking hard. Yeah. I’ve actually sat with that a lot. And I mean, I did, I did have a little bit of that come up or like I’ve been in fix it mode with my body for quite some time.
And like wellness culture. Definitely. Amplified that a lot, because the wellness culture, there’s always something wrong with you, right? There’s always something to fix. And even this like quirky thing that your body does, as soon as you’re in wellness culture, that suddenly becomes this like symptom that you have to, you know?
Um, so I have sat with that and I’m at the point now where like, I don’t really feel like this pain. Um, I try not to let it inhibit my life as much as possible. Like I still do most of the things that I would love to do. Um, and I don’t even necessarily feel an attachment to the pain itself, but I definitely feel an attachment to the outcome where I want the pain to go.
Yeah. You know, like that’s where I feel like the attachment is now. Um, I have sat with the like, questions about identity and like what stories my ego, trying to create out of this. Um, is this, is this another manifestation of like needing to be a victim of something? If I didn’t have this problem, would that mean that I don’t have anything?
To talk about on Instagram. That’s wrong with me? You know, I mean, I’ve sat with all these really weird questions. And at this point I truly am just like, I don’t know. I don’t know. I know, I know. And sometimes, and I don’t know how long you sat in that space of just like, I don’t know, but, but sometimes it does take like that total, you know, like hands off the wheel.
You know, complete and total surrender, you know, losing the attachment to the outcome, losing, you know, any like desire even to like, try to fix it, like before things really start to move through you. And, and that’s one way that it can go. And then the other way that I say going is. Maybe there is something, you know, maybe there is a component of, of your body that, that needs attention, you know, and, and it can go both ways.
And that’s where I think working with somebody is so important. Like having a coach, having a therapist, having someone who can really help you and guide you through that deep dive is so important because you’re never going to find the answer to this on Google. I mean, you’re just not, and it requires so much deep exploration.
And, and like, in your case, you’ve gone deep, you’ve gone so deep to the point where it’s like, what else is there? What else is there here? I have no idea. I have no idea, but you know what, like, as long as I’m in this body and like, I also have to make peace with the fact that like, Every day, I’m like getting closer to dying.
We all are. And like bodies, bodies break down over time. And I still feel like I’m slightly too young to start saying this breakdown or pain or whatever. Um, cause I plan on living for. You know, a few more decades and it, it actually gives me a lot of anxiety to think about this pain being there for decades longer, like that, that feels really scary and hopeless, but at the same time, It’s not constant.
And it’s something that I have learned to sort of adapt my way around, you know, and it really only becomes like glaringly obvious in certain positions or after, you know, like I don’t really ever stack firewood anymore because like certain things like that, that I might be missing out on. Anyway, I feel like that’s enough of talking about my hip.
Um, I’m sure people are like, can we please get on to something else? Um, so something that you introduced me to back in October when I met you in person for the first time, and we, we went to your studio and you worked with me and it was, it was such a magical session for me, um, where these really slow, um, gentle.
Subtle movements. And I remember telling you then, like we have to talk about this on my podcast. So let’s, let’s pivot over a little bit into, um, the slow, gentle, subtle movements that. Most people are like, this isn’t even doing anything. Like, because we’re so conditioned to believe that like rehab or physical therapy or exercise has to be these like big movements using these big muscle groups.
And like that, that’s what it has to look like. But actually I have experienced the complete opposite. And for me, the slow gentle, especially some of the core work that you gave me to do. It’s. It’s actually one of my favorite nervous system regulating tools now, because it drops me into my body. And anything that I may have been worried about or overthinking or over-analyzing it’s like gone because I, it takes so much concentration and focus and human effort to do some of these.
So please riff on that for as long as you would like. Yeah. I mean, I want to preface it too. Like there definitely is a camp of physical therapists who are very much so about, like, you know, all of our patients should be deadlifting all of our patients should be squatting. And like, I think that there’s there’s truth to that in like a muscle recruiter.
Standard. But I think what people fail to really see when that becomes the standard of care, like everyone gets under a really big weight is that we’re sort of bypassing this group of people who, who have chronic pain, whose nervous systems are. Really dysregulated. And so in the population that I work with, I do tend to slow things down a lot.
I do tend to take off a lot of weight when it comes to the exercises I give, especially at the beginning, because there’s only like, even though our bodies are still resilient and our bodies can handle a lot of things. Like we have to honor where our bodies are at in that moment. And most people who have chronic pain, um, They need to work with their bodies in that really slow gentle capacity.
And they need to develop that skill of being able to tune into what their body is doing before we make the movement really intense and really complex. And so. That’s really where I start most people. And it’s almost kind of like, I know, like you’re really big on the cold plunges. And it’s like, when you’re in that sort of environment, like you have to focus on, you know, like the only thing you can focus on is your breathing.
Like you’re totally focused on your body and that’s really, what’s slowing things down and really focusing on like each little minute movement does, is it really brings you into your body. And kind of got structured way. Um, and our bodies tend to do better when we’re not just doing these big movements that kind of continue the pain cycle, like when we’re just sort of hammering in that cycle over and over and over again, we’re doing a movement over and over and over again that causes pain.
Our bodies really learn to respond to that. And then that. Is painful. You know, even if it’s not necessarily like we’re not necessarily doing something that would traditionally cause pain. So that’s really, I slow it down to really break it down to basic movement and basic muscle activation. And then once we kind of build that resilience of the nervous system, that’s when we can go to more complex movement.
But for most people in that boat, slowing it down, making it really intentional. It’s just. So vitally important. Yeah, it is. And I mean, I doing some of the slow movements that you’ve given me to do really put a spotlight on weakness that I had that I didn’t know. I had. You know, like, like some of the core, the core things, um, they’re still, I mean, I’d been doing them for like two, three months now, and they’re still hard for me to do.
And like, it’s hard to isolate those little muscles, um, because most people think that core work is like, Crunches and, you know, uh, planks and stuff like that. And I feel like the muscles that activate for me when I do some of these slow gentle movements that you’ve given me. I mean, I don’t know if you, maybe you remember that day that we were in your office.
And I was like, I felt that muscle turned on and I started crying because I was like, I haven’t felt that part of my body turn on in like years. Yeah. And I didn’t even know I was missing it until there was. And so it was huge for me. And the other thing that was so huge about the slow gentle movement is, um, maybe some of our listeners will resonate with this as like for my whole life.
I’ve had, I have a sort of type a perfectionistic, um, overachiever. You know, I don’t want to call it a personality. That’s the story. My ego is created for me as a response to trauma. Right. Um, and so I’ve always been like, Doing doing really fast paced, talking fast, moving fast. Like I don’t really know how to slow down very well.
And I remember when we were in your office and you were showing me to do these movements and I was sort of like going really fast and you’re like, no, no, no, no, no. Do it at like 25%. Of the speed that you’re really wanting to do it. And so, um, that’s another reason why they, that stuff has been so great for my nervous system.
So even though those movements haven’t resulted in, um, relief of the pain yet, um, it has been beneficial for me in other ways, because not only does it drop me into my body in a really profound way, It’s helping me to learn how to slow down in other aspects of my life too, which is really beneficial for my nervous system.
So do you want to elaborate on that anymore? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that that. Like w like you’re not alone in, uh, you know, doing an exercise at like, you know, you know, 20 times the speed that it needs to be at. Um, cause I think that’s just the culture we have here. Right? Like we, we rushed to do everything and we don’t ever really take the time to move intentionally.
And there’s a reason why I tell people, like I never tell people, sets and reps with my exercises. I say, do it until you get tired or bored. Because when you get bored, you lose that, that concentration, you lose that intention, that intentionality of movement. And, um, it’s so it’s so interesting to me, how.
We can, I can get people who do CrossFit, who do these really big, big, heavy movement patterns that don’t even know how to breathe. They don’t have the, the, the mobility, um, or even the, the know-how in their body to really take a really nice diaphragmatic breath. And so that’s wild to me too, um, that, um, That, that people who are doing that kind of activity can, can not have that foundation of, of awareness in their bodies.
Um, and I think that that’s just so important for setting a strong foundation for. All other movement patterns, you know, whether you decide to decide to go, um, go lift heavy weights, or you’re just need to stack wood, you know, in order to get through the winter. Um, I think that foundational knowledge of how to connect to your body and not really slow and intentional way is just so powerful.
And we, we skim over that all the time. Cause it’s hard. Yeah. It is hard. It’s hard. It’s physically hard. And like those little tiny muscles that are activating, like they get tired really fast. So it’s hard. It is physically hard in a way that is hard to describe because it’s not like I’m out of breath.
Like it’s not like, you know, like I’ve been running up and down the stairs 50 times or something. It’s like a very different kind of tired. Um, and the other thing that I am really excited to talk to you about though, is. When I do some of these movements and some of the other nervous system hygiene practices that I do, um, I experiencing some weight I experiencing, I experienced some like spontaneous tremoring or shaking.
And I remember you telling me that that’s like, that’s actually a good thing. That’s like a somatic release of something. And so I was wondering if we could talk about the, the spontaneous tremoring and shaking whenever we’re doing certain movements, whether it’s like trauma release exercises or.
Physical therapy or Pilates or something else like, yeah. What’s that all about? Yeah. So with some of those like longer holds, you know, so I, I had you do an exercise where you were holding a position, um, and kind of giving yourself some resistance and like your abdominal muscles were shaking while you were doing it.
Um, And that’s really common. So I see that for people who have, um, who have some issues with, I call it like the, like your body, trying to figure out how to actually use those smaller muscles in conjunction with the bigger muscles. So like, think of the big muscles, like your global muscles as like the muscles that allow you to like, actually move your body, like you’re actually bending forward or you’re actually bending backwards.
You’re actually like creating a bodily movement. And then I, I, so those are like their global muscles and then you have your stabilizing muscles and those help keep joints in the same place. So those help stabilize you in one position. So a lot of times we’re really used to using our global muscles. To try to stabilize and that’s not their job.
They have a really important job. Like we need to be able to bend forward and bend backwards and move, but they’re not, their job is not just stabilized. Um, and then we have our stabilizing muscles that a lot of times just decide to, you know, kind of hang out or not do as efficient as a job because these other muscles like to take over and try to do the stabilizing job for people for the.
And so when you’re in that place of holding a position, your big muscles, your global muscles are trying to do the job of the stabilizing muscles, because they only know how to move your body. You get these shakes, like your body’s kind of tugging you in different directions, trying to figure out, wait, how do I actually stabilize this one position?
Because that’s not the job of that muscle, that job of the muscle is to move you. So you’ll get this like, kind of, um, like automatic shaking that happens as your body’s trying to figure it out. What’s going on, like how do I actually hold this position? And then the beautiful thing is that if you hold that for a long enough, the shaking will often go away.
Your stabilizers will kind of come in and then you’ll have that really lowly symphony of your big muscles working with your stabilized. And then you have kind of that big picture of, okay, now all of these muscles kind of know how to work together. Now I can go and do something a little bit more complex.
I can do something with a little bit more weight or whatever it is, what have you, but it’s kind of that initial shaking that turns into this really beautiful, like static contraction that allows us to create that stability in our body to go forward and do some more of that complex motion. So with the shaking or the tremoring, is there some kind of potentially even like some kind of trauma release happening, even if people are not consciously aware of it?
I ha I hold the belief that there is, I think that. You know, Jeff’s like your body’s trying to physically figure out what’s going on your body. Also, like shaking does allow that release of energy. You know, it allows us to kind of move through things that might be being held statically in our bodies. And it helps kind of move that energy through us.
I think all movement does that, but definitely the shaking can, can. Hold that purpose. They can definitely have that purpose. Like, as your body’s trying to figure out what it’s trying to do, it’s kind of getting rid of the things that it no longer needs in order for that to happen. Amazing. You know, so much.
You’re so smart. You are. So, um, let’s see. I’m trying to think if there’s anything else that I really, really wanted to ask you about, and I think we’ve covered it. Most of it. I guess one other question I would ask is like, um, since you like specialize in chronic pain, um, and educating people about their pain, what are some of your favorite tools to give people?
Um, either for helping to regulate their nervous systems or helping to find peace within the pain or, um, anything like that? Yeah. I mean, like we’ve talked about it’s so individualized, you know, and I know, you know that, um, but I would say, you know, the first step in all of this is being able to sit with your body and giving yourself the support to be able to sit with your body.
Because when you’ve experienced trauma, when you have chronic pain, it’s not comfortable to sit with your body. It’s it’s really actually a, uh, an uncomfortable sensation. So really like learning how to resource. Um, so I, I kind of call it, connecting with your anchor. So finding something either within your body that is comfortable or outside of your body, that gives you that sense of comfort that allows you to kind of co-regulate or regulate their body to that.
Um, positive or more comfortable sensation. Um, and that’s kind of the foundation that we lay. So once we have sort of that, that, that foundational anchoring, or sort of that foundational centering of your body, then we can really do a lot more of that somatic exploration, you know, seeing, okay, what is this discomfort?
In my body, what does it feel like? What does it like to sit with that? Um, and so we can do a little bit more exploration there. And so a lot of that comes back to, in that exploration to polyvagal theory, which I know you’ve talked a lot about. Um, on your podcast. Um, but really it comes down to learning the energies of your body.
So when you have this sensation, when you have this experience, how can I work with my body? How can I tap into these resources that I’ve developed? How can I tap into my anchor? How can I work with this energy to bring me up or bring me down depending on where. I need to go. Um, so there’s a lot of education on, on polyvagal theory and the nervous system.
There’s that really, really important piece of learning how to anchor, learning, how to ground yourself with some sort of positive sensation. Um, and then movement. I mean, that’s a huge tool that I give people is movement that connects themselves with their bodies. So whether that be something that connects you to your core, whether that be something that like opens up your chest, whether that is something that is just like a tool with a foam roller, or a ball or something like that, to just release a part of your body that, that you hold tension in.
I mean, there are so many tools that we can use to kind of aid this process. But the really foundational piece and the really the most important tool that I can give someone is that ability to, to have a communication with their body and to know how to come back to it, time and time again, a thousand million percent.
Yes. Yes. So you have a freebie that you would like to offer people. It’s a body awareness journal guide. Can you tell me more about that? Yeah. So, uh, it’s just a, a list of journal prompts that you can download from my website. That is sort of just a somatic exploration of. That that allows you to really begin that process of communicating with your body.
So kind of tapping into what are the sensations that I notice, what are the sensations that I noticed when I think about this certain situation or this situation? Um, how do I feel about my body? You know, what is my current connection to my body? There was just a lot of. A lot of diamonds there in terms of beginning that relationship.
So, um, I think there are 10 days, so it’s kind of a 10 day exploration of, of the body and that sematic connection that you might be able to cultivate sort of in that. In that reflection and in that journaling. Hm, amazing. Well, we’re going to link to that in the show notes so that people can grab that for free and anything else that you wanted to make sure it came through today before we.
Um, no, I mean, I think there’s, we’ve covered so much important content and I know you’re going to continue to preach about the nervous system, which I also, I also love. Um, and I think it’s so, so vitally important. And so I would just say if you’re navigating chronic pain, um, find somebody to support you in that.
You know, find somebody that can be your cheerleader can be that detective with you, um, that can both like hold space for the discomfort and also work towards making your life better, because there are ways to make your life better, even in some of those, those experiences or those situations of like complete hopelessness.
There’s, there’s always. There’s always a way to enhance. That quality of life. And so I just encourage people to seek out, seek out somebody to support them along that journey. Absolutely. Other than physical therapist or maybe a massage therapist that comes up who, who are good support people for that. Um, I mean, there are a lot of, you know, other therapists and coaches that, that deal kind of in that chronic space sphere.
Um, but I would say, you know, Bodyworkers are really beautiful, beautiful space holders for. For these really bodily based concerns. Um, and I always am an advocate for somatic exploration and sematic work. So, um, somatic experiencing practitioners or other mind-body therapy practitioners that, that you might be able to connect with, um, are, are trained to guiding you through an exploration of your body.
So seeking somebody like that would also be, I think, a really. Are really beneficial move for someone who has chronic pain, especially if you’ve tried everything. Amazing. Well, thank you so much for being here today. I appreciate you so much. Thank you, Lindsay. This was such an owner.
Okay, everyone. I hope you loved that episode and found it eye opening, insightful and supportive. Wherever you are in your journey. I just want to remind you that you can download Marissa’s free body awareness journal guide to help connect with your body. Um, the link for that is going to be below in the description box or on my website, you can find show firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash podcast. This is episode 69. and i just appreciate you being here today and i will talk to you next week
📍 did you enjoy the show? I’d really appreciate it. If you took a few moments to rate the podcast,
Into the world.
community Cast episodes monthly zoom calls a community forum and most importantly you’ll find your people go to lindsay lockett.com forward slash circle to join