👊Less Pain All Gain👊

What do we really know about pain?

Pain is one of those “you know it when you feel it” kind of sensations. But it’s also a strange phenomenon, when you think about it. A snowball is cold, and so it feels cold when you touch it. A block of concrete is rough, so it feels rough when you touch it. But a knife isn’t painful on its own. Neither is a pot of boiling water or the leg of a table. We handle these things safely all the time, and experience their mass and temperature and texture. But pain exists only in the body, and even more specifically (as people who’ve experienced anesthesia know firsthand) in our minds. But that doesn’t make it less real! So what exactly is happening when we feel pain, and how do we stop it from negatively impacting our lives?

How does pain work?

There are three primary types of pain, and each of them works a slightly different way.

1.) Nociceptive pain (tissue pain).

There are many different kinds of sense receptors in the body. Some are sensitive to heat or cold, some to touch or pressure. Others, called free nerve endings, aren’t specialized for any one type of stimulus. When a significant stimulus triggers these nerve endings, they send a message through the spinal cord and up to the brain indicating that something potentially dangerous has happened. The brain then decides (without consulting the part involved in conscious thought, alas) whether this is something to ignore or brush off or if it seems likely that damage has occurred. This then sends this message back down to the affected part of the body.

If the message is “No biggie, ‘tis but a scratch,” then you’ll most likely shake yourself off and forget the incident even happened. If it’s “WHOA, THIS SEEMS LIKE A PROBLEM,” then you experience this as pain.

This is useful! Just ask someone with CIPA, or congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis, a disease that leaves people insensitive to pain. Imagine not noticing a bit of grit in your eye until it damages your cornea, developing stress fractures in your feet because nothing is telling you it’s time to sit down, or ending up with burns in your mouth and throat because you don’t realize your coffee is scalding hot. Pain stops us from trying to walk on a sprained ankle or go for a run when we have a fever. Tissue damage, high temperatures, low pH, and capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot peppers) are all common triggers for this process.

But brains aren’t always correct when it comes to assessing danger. Lorimer Moseley gives a brilliant example of this in his TEDx talk. What’s the difference between the pain from a scratch on the leg and the pain from a nearly-fatal snake bite? Spoiler: it’s whatever your brain is expecting. That’s why you might feel little pain after a bicycle accident, but be in agony when getting the wound stitched up two hours later. Pain is weird.

2.) Neuropathic pain (nerve pain).

This is pain that results from an issue with the nervous system itself, rather than surrounding tissues. If you’ve ever banged your funny bone, you know this feeling well. Common forms of neuropathic pain include:

  • Sciatica: pain in the sciatic nerve running through the hip and down into the leg and foot
  • Diabetic neuropathy: nerve damage resulting from fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: pain resulting from the compression of the nerves that run through the wrist into the hand

Less common forms include phantom limb pain (pain that feels like it originates in an amputated limb) and postherpetic neuralgia, which occurs as a result of getting shingles.

Neuropathic pain can be especially frustrating because the normal things we do to reduce pain are often useless when it comes to pain originating in the nervous system. Moving or not moving our muscles, applying heat or ice, these can have relatively little impact on nerve pain.

What’s more, nerves don’t heal as well as things like muscles and skin do, which makes nerve pain more likely to become chronic pain.

3.) Other kind of pain. The unknown. Where and Why? 

Pain is messy, and a lot of it doesn’t fall into either of the two categories above. Fibromyalgia is a great example of this. Is it pain resulting from tissue damage? Nope. What about nerve damage? Not as far as we can tell. It’s caused by the nervous system malfunctioning, sometimes in horrible ways, but that don’t result from actual nerve damage. Often a lot of it. And the world of medicine is still trying to figure out why.

So how do we alleviate pain?

There are several different options.

  • If the pain is caused by some kind of physical injury or stimulus, you can work on fixing that. If your hand is being burned on a lightbulb, you can remove your hand, which will make most of that pain go away. If you’re experiencing a muscle cramp in your foot, you can flex the foot (manually, if necessary). If you’re experiencing pain from sitting in the same position for too long, you can move around and shake out your legs. If the cause of the pain is inflammation, anti-inflammatories and ice can reduce that. This is perhaps the ideal form of pain relief, although it’s not always in the realm of the possible.
  • You can block the messages that tell your brain you’re in pain. This is how many painkillers work. Ice can also numb nerve endings.
  • You can convince your brain that you’re not in any real danger. This is a tough one, because the brain doesn’t just listen when you tell it things. But it’s well documented that fear, stress, and anxiety lead to increased pain perception. And of course, pain leads to stress, which leads to pain … General relaxation techniques—from meditation to light exercise to getting a massage—can all be helpful in turning the brain’s pain alarms down a notch. Physical therapy (practicing certain motions in a way that isn’t painful) and talk/art therapy can also be useful here too.

How can massage help with pain?

Sometimes the issue is one that massage can help manage on a physical level. Such as trigger point therapy or even cupping. But even more often, massage gives the brain a chance to let down its guard and experience something non-painful and even pleasant in the body. And while there’s no silver bullet for pain, that can mean a lot for people whose pain has defied more straightforward treatments and whose injuries or illnesses are already healed.

Feeling the hurt yourself? Suffering from chronic pain? Need pain management? There’s a massage with your name on it. Book your next one today with Annie at ZenGate Healing Arts! 

12 Days of Zen Day 5

12 Days of Zen Day 5

On the fifth day of ‘zen’mas my massage therapist gave to me! A free printable of The Five Reiki Principles just for me!
Have you heard of the Five Reiki Principles by Dr. Mikao Usui? These five principles, (you can call them little mantras too) are a suggested guideline for all Reiki Practitioners and enthusiasts that everyone can live by; To promote a healthy & loving way of life.
Try them out, recite each one every morning for one week and let it change the way you think, feel & live! Blessings & a hug!

Our gift to you, Free Zenergy Healing Reiki 5 Principles! Click here!

 

 

 

5 Tips for Neck and Shoulder Care Between Massage Appointments

Self Care is not indulgence

People with neck and shoulder issues often have their pain return before their next massage appointment. Work, play and children all make demands on the body. A dull ache can quickly turn into a burning pain especially while folding laundry, doing yard work, playing on the computer or any of the other million things you do.

What can you do between professional massage appointments to take the edge off neck and shoulder pain? Here are some ideas.

1.Take a Break
Take short breaks as often as you can if you sit at a computer all day. Move your shoulders around and s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Ideally you can get up and move around a bit. But even if you’re chained to the desk, you can rock out a little Deskercise to stay loose.

2.Get the kids into it
Have a short yoga break together! There are plenty of videos made especially for kids, and the moves are just as beneficial for adults. Bonus: got a little one averse to naptime? Try the lying-down postures here and maybe you’ll get a short break.

3.Heat it
Just 10-15 minutes of heat on your shoulders can make a huge difference in how your tissue moves and feels. You don’t need a fancy heating pad, you can DIY that.


4.Self-massage
Try it, you might be surprised how much it helps! It’s not complicated, just grab a tennis ball or a red rubber ball and check out these techniques.


5.Choose the right pillow
You spend about a third of your time in bed, be sure it’s cozy for your neck. Side-sleepers have different needs than belly-sleepers. The right pillow at night can help you all day.


A few minutes of self care every day, little changes, can make a huge difference in how you feel. See you at your next appointment!

Should I talk during a massage?

Did you know?

Should I talk during a massage?

Should I talk during a massage?

Sure, if you’d like to talk go right ahead! At ZenGate we understand that talking can help you further relax into massage, especially if you need to work through any challenges in your life. The important thing to remember is that this treatment is all about you relaxing and enjoying the experience.

While many therapists discourage talking in hopes that you will relax, we understand some people feel more relaxed starting off talking, and as the massage progresses, the nervous system enters to the land of quiet parasympethic relaxation which equals more zzz’s!

What it really comes down to is the important issue that there are times when you need to speak up. If the therapist is doing anything that may cause discomfort, makes you uncomfortable, or pain you should let her know immediately. Also, let her know if you get too warm or too cold, if the room is too bright, music is to loud or if the pressure is causing pain. If something is not working for you – speak up! It’s OK!

 

5 tips for ZEN & a happier holiday season

Happy holidays!

Happily ‘getting stressed out, trying to do too many things, and shop till you drop’ season. Ohhh, wait. That’s not promising! Maybe this year is the year to mix it up and make your holidays a little easier on yourself. WHY? Because you are worth it!

 1. Forget perfection 

Sometimes gingerbread men will be missing a limb. The tree may have a bald spot. The kugel may not taste exactly like your grandma’s. Do You Know what? None of it matters. Decide what’s truly important to you over the holidays, and focus on that. Maybe its just the family pics and the annual card. (Wait, I think I need to schedule a photo session, never mind, my camera has a timer!)

2. Enlist help

Once you drop the desire for Norman Rockwell levels of perfection, it gets much easier to ask for help and delegate tasks.

Kids can sign the names and address holiday cards. Wrap gifts in plain brown paper and kids can stay occupied decorating with crayons and ribbon. 

3.Stick to a budget

Much of the holiday stress people feel can be attributed to money woes. Make a spending budget, a list and check it twice, making sure the gifts you choose are within your budget’s reach. And when you’re tempted to overspend, remember that things are rarely as meaningful as a kind thought or gesture.

If your a New ZenMommie consider making one of a kind treasured gifts seen here.

4.Shop local

Shy away from the average stuff you get at chain stores and Amazon. Visit your local bookstore, bakery and massage office (Hey! That’s me!) to get gifts and gift certificates that really mean something.

Look for a winter farmers’ market where you can buy jars of local honey or handmade ornaments. Keep a stash in your car with some gift bags for last-minute “I can’t believe I forgot to get a gift for my kid’s teacher” type situations. Bonus: you’re supporting small business at the same time!

5.Get a massage

Taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of all the people who depend on you! Here’s to a wonderful holiday low on stress, filled with fun and a little more of ZEN! To schedule your massage click here.