I originally wrote this for a golfing magazine circa 1998 but it continues to be useful - maybe for you x
A lot of my of my work is with people who have injuries; sports and others. I also help people manage pain, i.e. childbirth, hypno-anaesthesia for surgery and dental treatment. Following a recent experience it now seems a good time to talk about pain management.
What experience I hear you ask?
During one of my recent hypnosis workshops for golfers with a group of nine there were two people with shoulder and neck pain, someone had a back ache, there were three headaches and one person was suffering with IBS. The two people remaining who didn’t have any pain felt quite left out. If you ask around most people experience discomfort of one sort or another quite frequently, especially headaches and the ilk. It might be just general aches and pains, pain following injury or surgery or a stress related problem in the form of tensions in the body.
Before any pain can be managed it is important to ascertain the cause. Pain is always a signal that something isn’t right or that an injury has occurred and anything new must be discussed with a doctor or similar. But, pain from stress, in the form of a holding pattern or as an emotional response, can be excruciating and seem like an injury reaction.
Chronic pain, whatever the cause, is very stressful and debilitating but it can be therapeutic to be doing something, i.e. playing golf. Most doctors are pleased if their patients want to exercise, play games or participate in sport and taking part in something is also good for mental health and can help to stop depression creeping in.
Back to the original group - of the two with shoulder and neck problems - one was stress related and the other had an old injury. The back ache was a muscle spasm around a degenerative disc. All three headaches and the IBS were caused by stress and all involved were regularly taking pain killers.
They all wanted to continue playing golf and would just take extra pills either before or after a round. Too many pain-killers can cause problems of their own so it is not good to take an excessive amount.
However, although I would certainly not suggest stopping the popping if you are going to participate in games or sports regardless you may as well try to manage pain and tensions in a natural less damaging way.
Your perception of discomfort is important. Pretending the pain isn’t there is not the answer. But, being aware of, and then managing it, is.
If we are relaxed we hurt less so breathing properly is the first step. We tend to breathe in and hold our breath if we experience discomfort but that makes our muscles tense and sore. Examples are fist clenching, jaw locking, shoulders up and bowels tightening plus many others.
If you have any pain now think about where it is and imagine breathing into that part of your body while mentally soothing the hurt away. Think about how you would feel without any pain. How you would stand, sit speak, swing a golf club etc. Act out these movements or behaviours in your mind. If you do this a few times your subconscious can begin to find ways to create it permanently.
Here is a technique you might find useful especially for helping a headache - but beneficial for any type of pain. Of course prevention is always better but sometimes we are not quick, or aware enough and we’re not on a mission anyway because we are too normal! Identify exactly where you are feeling pain right up to the edges of it. Be specific. Does it end level with your left ear, is it resting on an eyebrow or is it drilling into you shoulder? When you know, begin to focus on softening it and rubbing it away from the edges inwards. However you would do this is right for you - whether you visualise, feel or talk to the pain. Play a mental game of brilliant golf (or anything else you choose) concentrating on feeling well with your body relaxed and your mind clear. Doing this when relaxed releases natural endorphins that create pain relief and make you feel good. This also happens when exercising or if we are busy. Have you ever hurt yourself but either not noticed or not felt it until later when you stopped and paid attention to it?
Visualisation in very useful because you can personalise it in any way that you like. You can create numbness - like a local anaesthetic at the dentist, relax muscles, close imaginary gates that stop pain or change the shape of it to make it manageable.
Here is the method the group used:
Sit comfortably and start the relaxation process by regulating your breathing and slowing everything down - including your thoughts. For a few moments just ‘be’. Now direct calmness to any areas where you think it might be needed. If you have discomfort in any joints or muscles imagine a healing balm flowing into, through and over them; caressed in comfort, dissolving away - lubricating the whole area to allow a freedom in movement. You can create warmth or coolness depending on your needs just by thinking about it. Allow everything to soften and soothe. Drift away into your thoughts for awhile knowing that when you ‘awaken’ you will feel more comfortable.
Be as creative as you can and your mind will do all it can to help you.
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