I’m not big on talking to myself. I frequently talk to my cat, but I tend to use her language instead of mine – we have some really great conversations that way. But when it comes to speaking English out loud to an audience of just myself, I’m pretty reticent.
HOWEVER . . . (duhn, duhn, duhnnnnn)
Last year, after eight months of working on resolving a musculoskeletal injury in my hip that just would not get better, I had a stormy morning of weeping that included a phone call with a close girlfriend about it all. After months of therapy, bodywork, and hours and hours of self-care (read: massaging my hip with a tennis ball and other tools) that morning was the magical morning when it all came together and that same old tennis ball in that same old hip finally released the deepest, most profound muscle bind I could have imagined. I was shocked.
Of course it took another six weeks before the release really started to hold but after that first big release I was able to stand and then walk and then hike like I had been used to prior to the injury. It was a miracle. Within a week of the first release I was able to walk 11 miles in a day with no major pushback.
What created that change? Why did the hip finally release? It was the perfect storm. All of the work I had been doing up to then, both emotional and physical, the fact that I was at my wits end, the fact that I was talking to someone I trusted and who was being really nice to me in my big moment of upset, the fact that I was sitting in just the right way on my trusty tennis ball, all of these things combined to create the change.
This comes up now because I have been struggling for the last month and a half with the same problem in my OTHER hip. Nightmare! Talk about old fears being triggered. And hobbling around when I am used to striding is just almost unbearable to me.
During this whole go-round I’ve been watching myself, seeing which patterns of ignoring or dismissing the pain I’m repeating, watching which patterns of self-denial or self-criticism for being in pain I’m engaging in once again. I got an earlier jump on it this time. I saw my chiropractor and bodyworkers right away instead of waiting. But nothing was making a difference. It just wasn’t changing . . . Until I admitted to myself that the biggest change last time had come as a result of simultaneous self-care and talking out loud.
So, two days ago I sat down with my tennis ball under the problematic muscles and, cringing somewhat at the sound of my voice, I started talking out loud to myself about all of the lovely and stressful change that has been happening in my life this Fall. I asked myself questions out loud. Said things I wasn’t sure I “wanted” to be saying. Expressed doubts and fears along with the joys of the transitions going on. And what do you know? The damn thing released. Of course, it reformed multiple times that day, but then it released again every time I prodded it a little. Another miracle.
Obviously, I don’t think this talking-out-loud-while-using-a-tennis-ball technique is the answer for everyone who has a stubborn injury but it does remind me yet again that our bodies and minds are of a piece, whether we want them to be or not.
- Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.
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