Thursday, September 23, 2010

Latent Pain

I got an email last night, asking if I could come into Shmuel’s office an hour earlier than I usually do. I had no idea why this was requested of me, but I complied. I came into the office today, expecting it to be just like any other day.

But when I got there, I found that Shmuel had taken the day off and that his colleague, Valery, had requested I come in early so that he could work on my body. This struck me as an unexpected and delightful surprise. Little did I know what lay in store for me.

The way Shmuel describes it, Body Tuning uses slowness and a minimum of manipulations. Body Tuning focuses on mobilizations.

Valery’s work is quite different than Shmuel’s; it compares more to a chiropractor. He moved my body around very quickly and with great confidence. Although I trusted him completely, it was a bit unnerving how much pain he was uncovering. As he moved my ankle, he grunted in disapproval. “This is very bad” he said, and his assessment was backed up by the pain I felt. A healthy ankle, I know, should be able to do this movement free of pain.

He discovered similar pain in just about every one of my joints. I was not in pain before his treatment, nor was I in pain afterwards. But the majority of the movements that he did with my body elicited a painful response.

So this was quite an eye-opening experience for me. I know about latent pain. Latent pain is something that can live quietly in our bodies. It can be caused by inflammation, misalignment, disuse, abuse or many other possibilities. It’s called “latent” because one doesn’t realize it’s there. Going through our daily activities don’t trigger the pain. But when someone presses on an area in latent pain, or moves a joint in latent pain, then the pain is experienced.

The pain was always there, but the body protects us by not sending a signal unless the situation escalates into a dangerous place. We need to get Body Tuning before latent pain becomes chronic pain, which is the next step if left unaddressed.

I experience occasional pain in my lower legs and feet, which I handle with self-massage whenever it comes up. But I had no idea the degree to which I was suffering with latent pain. It took a skilled body worker to discover this for me.

So, now, are you wondering if you have latent pain? The test is simple. Squeeze your muscles. Does that hurt? Give them a good squeeze like you’re trying to get juice from an orange. If it hurts, that’s bad. A healthy body should not only be able to tolerate a good squeeze, but it should feel good. If it hurts, or if you find that you are unable to really give yourself a good, firm squeeze, then you may be in latent pain.

Latent pain is chronic pain in the making. The wisest thing for you to do is to get yourself some body work before you are in pain. Shmuel Tatz often tells his patients, ‘If you had come to see me five years ago when this problem started, I could have helped you a just a few treatments. But now that it’s gotten this bad, it will take twelve weeks of appointments twice weekly. But after that you will have the hands like you had twenty years ago.”

So I’m grateful to Valery for exposing me to my latent pain. Looks like I need some Body Tuning. It’s a good thing I’m in the office every day.  Maybe you can come and see Shmuel and say hi to Valery and me.

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