Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Introduction to the series: Yoga to help relieve pain

It is really important, if you do suffer from chronic pain, that you consult your medical practitioner before starting a yoga practice to ascertain if the stretches would be suitable for your needs.

I know what it is like to have chronic pain.  Many years ago, after part of my right lung was damaged by chicken pox, my chest pain was so bad that I was taking a box of painkillers each week.  This continued for many months until I got a proper diagnosis.  It took a bout of pneumonia and a collapsed lung to galvanise doctors into investigating further and finally tell me what was causing the problem.  Once I knew my 'enemy', the Mac Dougall fight in me came to the fore (my ancestors were Mac Dougalls).  I vowed that I would sort the problem out naturally (no more painkillers).  I consulted a herbalist who recommended echinecea tincture (this was at a time when nobody had heard of echinecea!) to help prevent further bouts of pneumonia and I started to do yoga.  I started just doing a few stretches but when I started to feel better, I wanted to do more.

Yoga can help chronic pain in many ways but first we need to be clear on what the difference between acute pain and chronic pain.  Acute pain is the result of injury (for example my lung becoming damaged).  This is detected by sensory nerve endings which relay the signal to the spine and thence to the brain.  According to Descartes who formulated the first theory about pain (the Specificity theory) the intensity of pain is proportional to the amount of tissue damage.  This does not explain some pain.  My dad used to tell me that in the second World War, men who had limbs amputated continued to experience pain in the limb that was no longer there.

The problem is that the sensory nerve endings that detected the original injury can become oversensitised and continue to 'detect' injury when the body is healing or even healed.   This DOES NOT mean that the pain is not real, IT IS.  This is where a more recent theory of pain can help explain what is going on.  This is the 'Gate control theory of pain'.  According to this theory pain can be influenced by psychological factors.  The pain messages pass through 'gates' in the spinal cord. When these gates are open, the pain is felt intensely.  What opens these 'gates'? Anxiety, fear, depression, stress, fatigue or absence of distractions. In my case my 'gate' was opened by fear and anxiety.  I did not know why I was experiencing such pain months after the chicken pox had left my body.  I thought that I was seriously ill and I did not want to leave my family.  What closes the 'gate'? Yoga, meditation, breathing, acupuncture, hypnosis, and TNS.  In other words our 'suffering' is influenced by our thoughts and emotions as well as our expectations and memories of the original pain.

Meditation can also release endorphins from the brain stem which are the body's natural painkillers. Yoga can also help reduce stress, depression and anxiety.

In our yoga series on pain we will be doing some chair yoga. This is suitable for people with fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, osteopenia, arthritis as well as the elderly and people who have limited mobility. We will also be working on the facia to relieve pain.  The facia is the connective membranes in the body which may become stiff. We will then be targeting specific chronic pain such as back pain, shoulder pain, sciatica, chronic headaches etc.

Other factors that may lead to pain are poor posture. Below is my playlist on YouTube called 'How yoga boosts health' and on it there are three videos which will help improve posture.



Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html

Muscle stiffness may also cause pain please see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/beginners-yoga-stay-flexible.html,

Limited range of motion in the joints can lead to pain. Please see http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/how-yoga-boosts-health-joint-health-hips_5.html http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/how-yoga-boosts-health-shoulder-joint.html) http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/yoga-for-knee-health-part-1.html http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/yoga-for-knee-health-part-2.html

Long periods of sitting may cause back pain

Below is my playlist on YouTube called 'Yoga can help heal series' and on it there are six back pain videos.



Please read my blog disclaimer before following these videos http://flexiladies.blogspot.co.uk/p/disclaimer.html


My special interest is helping people heal and I feel that this series is one of those that may be much longer than I anticipated when the idea was first conceived.

Namaste,
Janet x

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