Pain and massage therapy

I’ve been in practice since 2009.  Although my initial training was Swedish massage I’ve taken a lot of advanced massage therapy qualifications since.  Something that has always interested me is the role of emotion and unconscious thought in terms of how pain is manifested in the body.  With my reflexology training we were taught that there is both a physical and emotional aspect to disturbed reflexes.  So for instance one of my earliest experiences as a therapist was with people who had pain around the big toe neck which represents the neck region itself.  From the physical aspect that could be neck pain but on an emotional level it could be that the person whose feet were being treated were dealing with a person that was a pain in the neck to them.

As time has gone by in my massage therapy practice I’ve encountered many who were suffering from major pain in all sorts of areas through their body – shoulder, neck, back, hip, sciatica-like and so on.  My training, although I have studied psychology at A level and at university level, isn’t designed to analyse people psychologically.  Sometimes though I feel that a person is trapped into a pain pattern because of an emotional factor, not entirely but sometimes enough that it can keep some of the pain there.  What I mean by that is describable from my own experience.  I used to suffer from frequent headaches when I worked in offices, often which led to migraines.  A lot of that related to how I used to work in terms of posture, positioning and not taking adequate care.  Subconsciously, upon reflection, there was a part of me that was glad to feel ill because it would help me slow down and sometimes if I had a migraine it meant I could not go to work at all. I didn’t like what I was doing and felt very unfulfilled so I believe that there was an emotional aspect to my pain patterns.  That’s not to say that I caused and created the health issues but sometimes there is a payoff and comfort in being ill when it comes to being able to then manage a life situation which feels outside of our control.  This is not about blame.  It’s not an equation whereby ‘You are in pain because you have willed it and therefore deserve to be’.  It’s more a case of ‘you are in pain because you are unhappy, not being fulfilled and your body isn’t flowing and is holding pain because your mind and life is not flowing’.

I’m going to do some further reading on this area.

http://www.journalofosteopathicmedicine.com/article/S1746-0689(06)00028-9/fulltext 2006

https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/healthcare_articles-and-associations/Massage-Therapy-Has-a-Role-in-Pain-Management.html 2003

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