In our role as Movement Professionals, we all have the privilege of working with people that have some sort of pain, some much worse than others. They may come to us with a list of symptoms, and over time they may have developed preconceived ideas of what is “wrong” with them–many even refer to themselves as “broken” when in fact they just don’t know how to restore their pain-free function on their own.
Often these folks have seen a laundry list of practitioners who were recruited to perform Bodywork of various methods, and a wide variety of medications, injections, and procedures may have been administered by their Physician as a pain management strategy.
Every Practitioner that this client has worked with will share some part of their impression of the dysfunction and will do their best to help resolve their symptoms–successfully or otherwise.
When they finally land on your doorstep, this student brings with them all of these snippets of information that they heard from all of the previous Practitioners they worked with, and often what you get are the details that they remember but not the whole picture.
As Movement Practitioners, we have witnessed time and again that where the client reports feeling pain is not necessarily the root cause of the functional problem. Maybe they suffered a severe ankle sprain years ago that has affected the mechanics of their knee or hip over time. so no matter how hard we try, treating the knee for knee pain will not necessarily resolve the issue to a successful pain-free end–the effects of the ankle sprain are still sitting in the shadows, unresolved and wrecking havoc.
It’s the perfect example of causation (the root cause) and correlation (the connection between one or more things).
What is causing the pain vs what is contributing to the pain?
In various movement practices, the body is treated as a complex and dynamic system that needs to be mobilized where the body needs to move more and stabilized where the body needs more support. Makes perfect sense! Except that when we just look in the area where there is pain, we are only looking at one piece of the biomechanical puzzle.
But remember, the client comes to us with the goal of eliminating the pain that is affecting their life–“just make it stop”. If their knee hurts, they want us to work on their knee even though we are confident that the contributing factor resides elsewhere. As skilled Movement Professionals, we have the choice to follow the client on a wild goose chase all around their body while the symptoms move from one place to the next, or we can follow our own instincts and expertise (where science meets logic).
Instead of chasing the symptoms, we have the means to work towards more structural integrity by moving the client with all of the functional movement tools in our toolbox–afterall movement heals, as they say.
So I offer this question for your consideration…When a client comes to you with a specific area of pain, and questions why you are working on other parts of the body, what strategies could you use to best manage client expectations without chasing the symptoms?
I look forward to hearing your experiences and ideas.
Interested in learning more valuable and applicable skills to help your students move better? Click HERE to check out the Body Harmonics Primary Specialist Certificate programs. All Movement Professionals are welcome.
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
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