Approximately 50 million people in the U.S. experience chronic pain, which sometimes presents as muscle pain. Carol Montgomery discusses what chronic muscle pain is and how Somatics can help those who are affected.
As a physical therapist and Somatics educator, one of the issues that many of my patients come to me with is pain in their muscles. Like any discomfort, muscle pain that occurs daily is challenging to live with, and if you don’t know what is causing your pain, it is next to impossible to find relief. In this article, I want to tell you about some of the common causes of chronic muscle pain and how Somatics can help alleviate it.
What Causes Chronic Muscle Pain?
In some cases, it is easy to pinpoint what is causing your recurring muscle pain. For instance, most muscle discomfort is the result of stress and strenuous physical activity. This especially is true when you perform movement actions that involve slow lowering, for example, the lowering phases of toilet squatting or getting into a car, kitchen countertop push-ups, or lowering items off a high shelf. However, not all cases are easy to diagnose. These more minor cut-and-dry cases may result from unconscious movement patterns, old injuries, and accumulated tension that over time physically shortens the muscle fibers, changing the range of motion in joints.
Other causes of muscle pain include medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is common for autoimmune disorders such as Polymyalgia Rheumatica to create muscle pain in the shoulders and hips. Ankylosing spondylitis, Psoriatic, and Rheumatoid Arthritis can be initially felt as back or neck pain, coupled with stiff or tight muscles. Muscle pain is a common side effect of some prescription medication, such as statin drugs used for lowering blood cholesterol. It is critical to speak with a medical professional when you have muscle soreness and pain that is not connected to physical activity to receive a differential diagnosis before treating your pain.
How Somatics Can Help
Somatic therapies, such as the Feldenkrais Method, can relieve some of the discomfort associated with these common causes of chronic muscle pain. Somatics emphasizes awareness—of your body and your surroundings and how you interact with your environment—which means paying closer attention to how you move to eliminate overuse and underuse patterns. Every time you track how you do a behavior, whether it is lowering yourself to the chair or tracking the food you eat, you’re creating conscious awareness. The more you become aware of how you make mundane movement habits, you may be surprised to feel that you use more muscular effort than needed for the task. If your habitual movement patterns are inefficient, the first step toward relief is becoming aware of those inefficiencies.
And don’t forget, how you respond to stress in your life is also a patterned response. Do you notice soreness in the face, ringing in the ears, shoulders that uncontrollably tighten, or arms and legs that want to stay crossed? When we start to track how we do what we do, we develop mindfulness.
And when we are mindful about our choices, we can choose something different, and our old inefficient patterns are interrupted, and like a traffic sign in the road, we can detour off the road of chronic muscle tension.
Knowing which of your movement patterns are inefficient allows you to make a different choice. That’s what it means to create a new habit—first, you notice that you have a habit, then you consciously try to change it. When your movement patterns cause pain, changing those patterns is essential in getting relief.
Are You Living with Chronic Muscle Pain?
Treating chronic muscle pain can be difficult if you do not know what is causing it, so it is vital to get professional help to figure out what is behind your pain if you want to find relief.
I am here to help you find that relief in whatever way I can. Let’s discuss what you are going through and develop a plan together to allow your body to regain balance. Set up a consultation with me today so that we can get started.
Are you interested in finding relief but want to work from the comfort of your own home? We offer many different programs, including personal virtual sessions using the concepts of somatic education, Total Motion Physical Therapy for Pain Relief, and group movement classes.
Carol Montgomery, MSPT, GCFP, STMI, is a dedicated, passionate Physical Therapist whose focus is on the somatic relationship between the physical body and the psyche for rehabilitation and recovery. She is also a co-creator of Integral Human Gait™ Theory and a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Movement Intelligence Senior Trainer. She is a graduate of both the Indianapolis Gestalt Institute and the Institute for Integrative Psychotherapy.