At Nurturing Nature Massage Plus LLC, we are committed to supporting all aspects of your health. In this post we discuss the importance of learning to interpret body signals.
There is one thing all of us can learn to do that will have a significant impact on the quality of our lives: learn to listen to our body signals. Our culture tends to have the “no pain, no gain” mentality which implies that pain or body sensations are things to be ignored and endured. Body signals are the main way our body has to communicate with us and ignoring these signals can lead to long term harm. One of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal as massage therapists is your assessment of your pain. Telling us how intense the pain is, where it’s located, what it feels like, those are all important clues as to the most effective method of treatment.
To help you help us better, I’m going to provide a quick overview of the types of pain or sensations we frequently see at the office and what each indicates:
- Localized pain that changes with movement = muscular pain
- Numb or burning sensation = nerve related pain
- General ache that is hard to describe = emotional or psychogenic pain
- Dull pain that is not easily located = visceral or organ pain
Another tool we use is a pain scale. This is the 1 to 10 scale with one being least and 10 being greatest and similar to what you encounter at the doctor’s office when you have a pain related complaint. Many clients have a hard time putting a number to their pain and this is an effective way we have to help:
- 1 to 3 – Pain that is only there if you think about it; the higher the number, the less you have to try in order to feel it
- 4 to 7 – Pain that is distracting and you notice it when you’re doing things; the higher the number the more distracting it is
- 8 to 10 – Pain that is so intense you are prevented from doing your daily activities; the higher the number, the less you are able to handle
The next time you have a pain or a new sensation, do yourself a favor and pay attention to it. Think about what you were doing that might have triggered it and notice what you do to make it change. If it’s a sensation you can’t quite pinpoint and doesn’t happen regularly but you want to understand what’s causing it, start a pain journal. This can be something as simple as a little notebook that you tuck away in a wallet or purse and can help you identify trends. Tracking the following on a daily basis between sensations can be helpful for you as well as your medical professional
- What did you eat?
- How did you feel?
- What did you do?
- How did you sleep?
- How much water did you get?
Awareness is one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal. Being aware of our physical and emotional bodies makes it easier to care for ourselves so that we can have a long and healthy life. We hope these suggestions are useful and as always, we welcome your comments and questions.