Here’s a free, simple formula for interrupting an old, dysfunctional pattern: try something different.
I mean this in the most physiological and anatomical sense.
What’s interesting and most relevant to me is our tendency to keep trying the same thing again and again, even though it’s clearly not working very well. I’d noticed this in working with my own aches, pains and less-than-efficient ways of being. (And as a side note, isn’t that tendency the definition of insanity? a bit dramatic perhaps, but worth noting.)
As an example: my left shoulder used to feel tight and creaky nearly all the time—I’m still prone to it for sure, but it happens much, much less now.
What I’d done for years was stretch the achey shoulder out and away from my neck. I would spend so much time stretching and stretching, and even after many months of this, didn’t actually feel any better in my shoulder. Yet, for what it’s worth, I was sure I just needed to keep doing this, what I was doing, keep stretching those achey myofascial fibers.
Skip forward a few years. What has been part of a dramatic change for the better in this shoulder, along with structural integration and a smarter approach to climbing, was this new inquiry*: if the evidence is pointing to the fact that something isn’t working, try something different, try the opposite thing to start.
Just try it. For me, this looked like actually starting to play with shrugging the shoulder up (to slack the neuromyofascial tension, particularly along the nerves, I would later come to identify), and ultimately a very light but very effective strength training program employing alignment and tension in the deepest recesses of my shoulders and thoracic spine.***
The moral here isn’t that you should always shrug up for shoulder pain—sometimes the opposite, I’m sure, or sometimes movement might not be helpful at all—but it’s a free, simple, DIY remedy to at least give a go.
The remedy, again, is this: Don’t do what you “always do.” Interrupt the pattern. Try something different.
And if you’re interested, this is about as good as mind-body metaphors get 🙂
Let me know how it goes! Cheers, Liam
*Much thanks to my former SI instructor, current mentor of sorts and amazing practitioner, Lauren Christman, for this post. It was really in her office that I got this for the first time.
***I’d be happy to chat in more depth about my own process with this particular technique/approach to my particular shoulder stuff. I’m sparing the details here for brevity’s, and thus clarity’s, sake.