Are You At Risk Of That Niggle Turning Into Chronic Pain?  Six Signs You Might Be.

Are You At Risk Of That Niggle Turning Into Chronic Pain? Six Signs You Might Be.

Chronic pain is defined as physical pain that lasts beyond the normal healing period (or for longer than three months). For example, if you roll your ankle during a game of netball you can usually expect it to heal within a six to twelve week period – depending on how severe the initial injury is and whether you seek treatment for it. If six months down the track you are still experiencing physical pain and symptoms, your injury has now become chronic. Chronic pain is a lot harder to manage and heal from. So what are the signs that you are at risk of developing chronic pain?

 

Stress as a risk factor for chronic pain

1. You feel stressed, overwhelmed and your life is extremely busy.

Stress causes an increase in heart rate, which in turn makes you breathe faster and causes your muscles to tighten in response.  Chronically tight muscles become painful over time.  Stress also causes you to feel more anxious, which is known to intensify feelings of pain.

Focusing on your pain

2. You spend a lot of time focusing on your pain.

This causes the pain signals that are sent to your brain to fire faster and more often.  In time this lowers your pain threshold so even gentle activities, such as receiving a light massage, become painful.

Poor diet as a risk factor for chronic pain

3.  You have a poor diet consisting largely of sugar, processed foods and the wrong fats.

Your body needs proper fuel to operate efficiently and for optimal healing.  There is a lot of research currently being done around how poor gut health (when related to a poor diet) causes a low grade chronic inflammatory response in the body.

Not listening to your body

4. You ignore the messages your body is sending you.

Your body is constantly sending you messages about what it needs you to do to help it heal.  If your physical pain is connected to your emotional wellness, your body will also intuitively tell you what areas of your life you need to address.  It is your job to listen, but also take action, to help your body free itself from pain.

Living a sedentary lifestyle

5. You live a largely sedentary lifestyle.

Regular exercise helps fight inflammation.  It also releases natural pain-relieving endorphins.  Getting off the couch and moving your body will also not only help you feel better physiologically, but also psychologically.

Not getting enough sleep

6.  You don’t go to bed early or get enough sleep, more nights than you do.

It is while we sleep, and particularly the hours before midnight, that our bodies repair and rejuvenate themselves.  Getting a consistently good night’s sleep is one of the most important keys to healing.

Even if you can relate to a number of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean you will develop chronic pain.  It simply means that you may be more susceptible than someone who is addressing, and working to improve, these different areas in their life.

I know it can feel overwhelming to think you need to address all these different areas of your life all at once.  So if you would love some support then please feel free to read more about how I can support you through my ‘Heal Your Body’ 1:1 coaching program here.

I know this program isn’t going to be for everyone which is why I offer a free 30 minute, no obligation, chat (by Skype or phone) to see if we are a good fit to work together.  And I promise that if I don’t think I can help you I will tell you!

If you are keen for a quick chat then I would love to hear from you.  You just need to click here to choose a time to catch up that suits you.

And even if my coaching program isn’t for you, that’s absolutely fine!  But I bet you can think of someone you know who probably needs to read this post right now..  So please feel free to share it with them.  And, as always, I’d love for you to share any comments you may have with me below.

Yours in Healing and Health,

Nicola

What Does Healing Intuitively, Naturally & Holistically Even Mean?

What Does Healing Intuitively, Naturally & Holistically Even Mean?

When people ask me what I do I tell them that I am a physiotherapist and life coach, helping women manage their pain (and prevent future pain) so they can enjoy life, feel motivated and gain confidence. How do I do this? By teaching them ways to heal their body intuitively, naturally and holistically. But what the heck does that even mean you might ask? Well, today I am going to share with you what it means to me and how it applies to the work I do … so keep reading!

Healing Intuitively:

Imagine you are walking home late one night by yourself and you come to a dark park. You know that taking a short-cut through the park is the quickest way home, but you have a gut-feeling that something bad might happen if you do. So you continue home the long way, past traffic and under street lights. That is you listening to your intuition.

That gut-feeling is just one way your body sends you messages. Your body talks to you all the time. That ache behind your eyes, that tightness in your shoulder, or that niggle in your back are just some of the ways your body tells you that something in your life is not working properly, or there is something out of balance.

It is your job to listen to these signals, take notice and take action. Why? Because if you don’t your body will start screaming louder and louder, until that niggle turns into chronic pain or illness.

When it comes to using intuition to heal physical pain this is the first thing I teach my clients. To learn how to listen to the signals their body is sending and then unravel the mystery of ‘why’ they are being sent this message. Sometimes it is as simple as needing to change their work desk around to improve their posture. But other times it just might be that they need to learn how to set stronger boundaries in their lives, so they can decrease their stress levels and relieve the painful tension being held in their shoulders.

So, take a minute now to tune in to how your body feels. Is there anywhere you feel tight? Is something aching? If there is I want you to ask yourself two questions. What in my life might be causing me to feel this way? And if this tightness/ache/pain was an emotion what would it be? You might just find the answer to beginning to heal intuitively right there.

And if you would like to know more about how you can learn to heal intuitively my eBook, ‘Breathe, Feel & Ask’, would be perfect for you to read. You can download your free copy by clicking on the picture below.

Intuitive Healing

Click here to receive your free eBook to help you begin healing intuitively.

Healing Naturally:

One of my biggest frustrations as a physiotherapist is witnessing the amount of medications that are prescribed to my clients, without any thought of the adverse effects that long-term consumption has on our body.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I do believe there is a time and place for both painkillers and anti-inflammatories. I actually can’t do my job effectively if a patient’s pain isn’t under control. And many chronic pain sufferers would not be able to have any quality of life without both of these types of medication.

But I don’t believe that this is all we should be prescribing. There are a number of more natural alternatives that should also be considered alongside medication. These include:

  • Regular and gentle exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Naturopathy
  • Essential oils
  • Self-care practices such as hot packs, dry body brushing, good sleep, journaling, staying hydrated and eating well.

When working with my clients I help them develop a toolbox of practices to help them manage their pain in a more natural and sustainable way. Not everything works for everyone so it’s about experimenting, adding in what helps and discarding the rest. What you end up with is your own ‘go-to self care guide’ to help manage and heal your pain.

Healing Holistically:

So what does holistic health and healing actually mean? Here is what it means to me. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle and discovering true wellness of not only your body, but also your mind and spirit.

When it comes to working with my coaching clients it is about healing the person as a whole, rather than just the part of them that hurts.

The reason I believe that this is so important is that our mind and body are intimately connected. What affects one, affects the other.

Let me give you an example. If you roll your ankle at a netball game you experience an acute injury and acute pain. In this case six weeks of physiotherapy treatment is probably going to be enough to get you back up and running. However, in my clinical practice I have client after client come to see me with tight and sore shoulders which they just can’t get rid of. The question I ask myself here is why? What is actually going on for this tension to develop in the first place?

Once I start talking to these women a common thread tends to appear. They are all busy juggling family, work, friends and all sorts of other commitments.  While also trying to keep the house clean, the fridge full and the dog walked. They are stressed out, feel overwhelmed and they have no time to look after themselves. So, if I was just to treat their muscle tightness they might get some temporary relief but it wouldn’t be long-lasting. Why? Because they are still going to be stressed out, overwhelmed and busy!

I not only have to help these women heal their pain but also work with them to begin implementing simple and easy self-care practices into their day, discover strategies to help them deal with their stress and find ways to lessen their feelings of overwhelm. Can you now see why healing the whole person is so much more important than focusing on just a single body part?

I hope this article has helped you gain a greater understanding of the work I do and what healing physical pain by intuitive, natural and holistic practices actually means.

If you do have any more questions about how I can help you then please feel free to either touch base by sending me an email (you can reach me at nicola@reclaimingstrength.net) or by booking a free half hour chat with me by clicking here.

And please feel free to share with me any ‘aha’ moments that you may have had while reading through this post in the comments below. I always love hearing from you.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know of someone who you think may just need to read this post today then please feel free to share it with them.

Are You Carrying The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders?

Are You Carrying The Weight Of The World On Your Shoulders?

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, ‘they look like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders’? But have you ever stopped and wondered what it was about that person that made you think that?

“She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there, leaning on the balcony railing, holding the Universe together”
J.D. Salinger

Our posture can communicate as much about how we are feeling as our facial expressions. Take a moment to think about the following two scenarios.

When something exciting happens that makes you feel on top of the world, how do you find your body reacting? Do you stand taller? Do you hold your head higher? Do you feel lighter?

What about when you are tired, stressed or something bad happens? How does your posture change? Do you carry your shoulders lower? Maybe you feel heavier?

The body language of your shoulders gives away more than you think. So does shoulder pain.

Connecting physical pain with emotional wellbeing isn’t a new concept. But as we move into an age of spiritual awakening, and a growing health and wellness movement, the concept has become less ‘woo-woo’.

For decades writers, such as Louise Hay, have talked about the strong connection between shoulder pain and the emotional burdens that we carry. Women, in particular, store a lot in their shoulders.

Shoulder tightness and pain is the most common complaint I see in clinical practice by far. And nine times out of ten of my patients with shoulder pain are women. When I start talking with these women about their daily lives one thing becomes abundantly clear. They are either carrying the emotional weight of others in their lives, or the emotional weight of themselves.

The right and left shoulders have different energies and they communicate very different things to us. If you understand how the brain works, it is just the same.

The right side of your body is your masculine side, or your Yang energy. It is more rational, logical, assertive and tends to hold anger. The right shoulder is associated with your Outer World and carries the weight of others emotional needs.

The left side of your body is your feminine side, or your Yin energy. It is more intuitive, receptive, passive and tends to hold sadness. The left shoulder is associated with your Inner World and carries the weight of our emotional needs.

So, if you are experiencing shoulder pain, tightness or discomfort right now I want you to ask yourself the following questions. I would also encourage you to set some time aside to journal on each of them as it is a wonderful way to begin seeing things a little clearer.

  • Is your life stressful at the moment, and what is causing you to feel this way? What is one thing you can let go of, even just for now?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed by all that you have going on, and what do you keep saying ‘yes’ to that might be making you feel resentful? Do you need to keep saying ‘yes’, or is it time to begin learning how to say ‘no’.
  • Are you taking on the emotional baggage of others in your life? So often we want to help or ‘fix’ those close to us, but it is important to remember that they are on their own journey.
  • Are there stories from your past that you are holding on to that need to be released?
  • Do you always put yourself last on your list of priorities, and how can you begin to take a little more care of yourself?

Your body is full of wisdom. It is communicating with you every day. In some instances physical pain is just that. A part of your body is injured and is painful. But at other times the pain that you are experiencing is your body telling you that something in your life needs addressing. Intuitively we usually know what that is.

So what is your shoulder pain telling you today?

It is now up to you to listen and take one small step towards healing both your emotional and physical health. Sometimes it is hard to know what step to take first. If you would like someone to talk to then I offer a free 30 minute initial consult as part of my ‘Heal Your Body’ coaching program. You can book a session by clicking here. This is just where I listen, offer my advice and if you feel guided to you can continue working with me through a three month 1:1 program. If I feel like there is a better option out there for you then I will tell you, but I will always provide you with as much support as you need during our cal together.

And please feel free to share with me any ‘aha’ moments that you have had while reading through this post in the comments below. I always love to hear from you.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know of someone who you think may just need to read this post today then please feel free to share it with them.

Is Your Emotional Health Causing You Physical Pain?

Is Your Emotional Health Causing You Physical Pain?

The first question you might be asking yourself is ‘what is emotional health’? The second question is ‘what has emotional health got to do with physical pain’? Great questions! I am about to answer these for you so keep reading.

“The part can never be well unless the whole is well”
Plato

I believe that there is a difference between emotions and feelings. Feelings are innate and are heart driven. The sadness that you feel when your beloved family pet passes on is a feeling and it is real. Emotions are mind driven. That anger you feel when someone cuts you off when you are driving is simply a response and a reaction. Can you see how the two differ?

Whether we are emotionally healthy or not is dependent on how we react and deal with stress and problems in our life. Those that have good emotional health have learned healthy ways to deal with the ups (yes the ‘ups’ can cause us stress too!) and downs of life.

Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. There is increasing research being shared which shows that the connection between mind and body is extremely strong.

An ongoing negative dialogue in our minds causes us to feel chronically stressed. Chronic stress from negative feelings then upsets the body’s hormone balance and weakens our immune system. How many times have you spent days worrying about an upcoming deadline at work, only to find yourself hit with the flu right before that deadline is due?

Chronic stress also depletes the brain chemicals that make us feel happy. You can try this experiment for yourself. Consciously spend a day thinking positive thoughts and then tune in to how your body feels. You will probably feel lighter, happier and either pain free, or your pain will be less. Then spend a day thinking negative thoughts. Take note of how your body feels in response. I would bet money that the way you feel both emotionally and physically is completely different.

Pain and illness also have a huge impact on our emotional health. When you aren’t feeling well, or that headache has been bugging you all day, it will often lead to emotions of stress, anxiety, guilt or fear.

When we are feeling this way we ironically stop looking after ourselves in the best way possible. How many of you have continued working through a pounding headache? Or turned up for a friends birthday feeling under the weather? This is because those feelings of guilt, fear and anxiety rear their ugly heads. We then, in turn, feel even more stressed. Our emotional health is in tatters and our physical pain gets worse.

When I trained as a physiotherapist (many moons ago!) our studies focused solely on the physical pain that our patients were experiencing. We were taught that if someone came in with shoulder pain you did X, Y and Z treatments and this would make them better. But it often didn’t.

For many years I failed to understand why my patients weren’t getting better. It wasn’t until I went through my own journey with chronic pain, and connected the dots with how my emotional health was affecting this, that I began to realise why. You can read more of my story here.

“Caring for the mind is as important and crucial as caring for the body. In fact one can not be healthy without the other”
Sid Garza-Hillman

It is now very clear to me that our emotional health impacts our physical health. I have so many women coming to see me with ongoing headaches, shoulder pain, neck tightness and back niggles. As I talk to them they ALL have ‘life stuff’ (as I like to call it) going on that is causing them emotional pain on some level. It might be that work is stressful. Or their teenagers are causing them constant worry. Or they have a parent who isn’t well. Whatever it is, it is not until I work with them on ways to decrease this stress, overwhelm and lack of self-care in their lives that their physical pain starts to improve.

I have a client at the moment that I am extremely proud of. She has experienced a huge amount of stress, anxiety, guilt and fear in her life over the past few years. But she is so open to learning how to look after herself on an emotional level. And by just acknowledging this, and putting simple self-care practices in place, her physical pain is already improving. And this is why I am so passionate about working as both a physiotherapist and life coach. Because I truly believe the two need to go hand in hand.

Are you beginning to see how your emotional health can be impacting your physical health? It is now up to you to make a commitment to yourself to start looking after both. If you are not sure of the first steps to take then please don’t hesitate in reaching out to me. You can contact me here with your question, or I am more than happy to offer my advice through a free 30 minute call that you can register for by clicking here.

And please feel free to share with me any ‘aha’ moments that you may have had while reading through this post in the comments below. I always love hearing from you.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know of someone who you think may just need to read this post today then please feel free to share it with them.

How Being Too Busy May Be Causing Your 3pm Headache

How Being Too Busy May Be Causing Your 3pm Headache

How many times have you asked someone how they are and heard the automatic response, ‘I’m just so busy at the moment!’? How many times have you said this yourself? But how many of us realise that being busy may just be the reason for those 3pm headaches, or why our shoulder pain won’t go away?

In today’s society we pride ourselves on being busy. Leading a busy life has become like a badge of honour that we proudly wear. Being busy makes us feel accomplished, successful, worthy and fulfilled. But does it really, or is our busyness just a cover for something else?

In her book ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown questions whether our addiction to busyness is actually a means of us numbing something that we don’t want to deal with (a bit like drugs, alcohol, food or shopping but without the same stigma!). In her book, she writes:

“One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up on us.”
Brene Brown

People keep themselves busy for a number of reasons. Whether it’s that they don’t like the feeling of being alone, are finding it hard to deal with the reality of a sick parent or are just scared of living a life deemed ‘ordinary’, there is always something deeper behind it. I know for me, in the year prior to my marriage breaking up, I kept myself insanely busy so that I didn’t have to deal with what was actually going on. It was far easier to fill my days with a list of things ‘that just had to be done’, rather than go home and deal with the real issue at hand. This may just something for you to sit and think about for a little bit.

But why else is busyness such a bad thing, and how does it contribute to physical pain that we may be experiencing?

Simply put, busyness equals stress! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know one person who leads a busy life that isn’t stressed to some degree. And there is only so much stress that our bodies can handle before it’s effects become damaging.

When we are stressed our bodies automatically jump into a ‘flight or fight’ response. This is the response that our ancestors used to experience when confronted by a bear at the entrance of their cave. In today’s world this response is activated due to numerous different reasons such as traffic jams, important meetings that we are running late for, deadlines that need to be met and social engagements that we really don’t want to attend. And it’s when this ‘flight or fight’ state doesn’t get turned off that we run into problems.

One of the problems with being in a state of chronic stress is that we get an ongoing release of noradrenaline from the sympathetic nervous system that tells our muscles that they need to tense up in preparation for action – such as high tailing it away from that angry looking bear. But if we don’t actually have any ‘real’ danger to escape from then the muscles stay tight and tensed and never get to relax again, because it is highly unlikely we will ever meet a bear coming out of a coffee shop. Does that make sense?

This then leads to the muscles being in a hyper-stimulated state, which in turn causes muscle pain, tension, tightness and stiffness. Cue those 3pm tension headaches, or that tendinitis in your shoulder that just won’t heal. Are you beginning to see how this all fits together?

This hyper-stimulation, in time, causes the muscles to become over-fatigued. Our muscle fibres are designed to contract and relax as we move about, but if they don’t get to relax they eventually go into spasm. It is also when our muscles are fatigued that injuries tend to happen. You may of known someone who bent over to pick up a pen and their back went out? This happens, because the muscles surrounding the discs in their back were too tired to protect them anymore.

Stress also contributes to us not paying attention to our body’s signals. When this happens we are more at risk of moving in a way that will cause injury. Our body actually sends us messages all the time when something isn’t right. It will tell us when we need to sit up, take notice and listen. But do we? Usually not. And often it’s because we have forgotten how to do so.

So how can we tune in to the messages our body is telling us, and how can we decrease the amount of busyness in our lives?

If you stick with me over the next little while I will be talking more about both of these things but for now (because I don’t want to overwhelm you even more!) here are two simple things that you can begin with today:

1. My free eBook, ‘Breathe, Feel & Ask’, teaches you a simple and quick practice that you can do in just 10 minutes a day to help you begin to tune into your body and it’s signals. I would really encourage you to download it by clicking here if you don’t already have a copy.

2. At the start of your day look at the tasks on your ‘to-do’ list and simply ask yourself, ‘what is one thing that I can take off the list?’. There will be one, I promise!

I believe that making small changes over time is the most important. Not many of us can overhaul our lives in a short space of time and be successful at doing so, but in time the small changes that we do make will always lead to huge shifts in the long term. Starting with something small is better than not starting at all!

So, now it’s up to you to make a commitment towards self-healing. If you can look at your ‘to-do’ list right now and take one thing off it, what would it be? Please feel free to share it with me in the comments below. And if you have any other tips for decreasing busyness in our lives then please share them as it may just help someone else reading this.

Yours in Healing & Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know of someone who leads a busy life that may just benefit from reading this post then please feel free to share it with them.

Book Review:  “Heal Your Body:  The Mental Causes For Physical Illness & The Metaphysical Way To Overcome Them” by Louise Hay

Book Review: “Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes For Physical Illness & The Metaphysical Way To Overcome Them” by Louise Hay

Have you ever noticed that when something isn’t going quite right in your life that you often end up sick, injuring yourself or your shoulder starts playing up? Louise Hay, one of the original founders of the self-help movement, believes that this is because of the intimate connection between our thoughts and emotions, and how they manifest in our body.

“Illness, however mild or severe is an indicator of your emotional state, caused by your thoughts and focus”
Louise Hay

I have had Louise Hay’s book, ‘Heal Your Body’ sitting around in my bookcase for a while, but it hasn’t been until recently that it has become my go-to guide in terms of figuring out what emotions may be behind both my own pain, and those of my clients.

‘Heal Your Body’ is more of a guide than a book. Within it’s pages Louise Hay has listened an A-Z of problems that we may experience in our lives, the probable emotional cause that may have triggered these problems and then provides a new thought pattern around this emotion.

Those of you that receive my weekly newsletter will know that a few weeks ago I wrote about how my lower back had been niggling at me for a while, before waking up one Sunday really stiff and sore. I thought it would be interesting to see what Louise Hay’s ‘Heal Your Life’ guide said about lower back pain. And there it was!! The underlying problem to this area was ‘Fear of money. Lack of financial support’. Ding!!

The day before my fiancé and I had had one of our ‘challenging discussions’ right around this topic (feel free to interpret this as a humongous row about money!). Now, I am well aware that my beliefs and habits around money is an area in my life that I need to do some work around, so it was really interesting to me that this came up. Message received loud and clear!!

So today I want to share with you some other symptoms, and the potential underlying emotions that may be attached to them, that Louise highlights in this book:

Fatigue: Resistance, boredom. A lack of love for what one does.

Foot Problems: Fear of the future and of not stepping forward in life.

Headaches: Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.

Hip Problems: Fear of going forward in major decisions. Nothing to move forward to.

Jaw Problems: Anger. Resentment. Desire for revenge.

Knee Pain: Represents pride and ego.

Muscle Pain: Resistance to new experiences. Muscles represent our ability to move in life.

Neck Pain: Refusing to see other sides of a question. Stubbornness, inflexibility.

Sciatica: Being hypocritical. Fear of money and the future.

Slipped Disc: Feeling totally unsupported by life. Indecisive.

As well as these musculoskeletal problems this book also lists other symptoms such as bad breath, menstrual pain, anxiety and cold sores; as well as illnesses such as cancer, liver problems and pancreatitis.

“Pain is a messenger. Through pain and difficulties we grow, we learn and we get cleansed”
Swami Satchidananda

I would be really interested in hearing if any of the above resonates with you. I know a few of them do with me. And if there is any other area of the body, an illness or a physical symptom that you are interested in knowing what the emotion behind it may be, then please let me know in the comments below. And if you would love to hear more about this topic then please feel free to sign up for my weekly newsletter where I share more about learning how to heal your body from pain.

As always, thank you for being here. Until next week …

Yours in Healing and Health,

Nicola

PS. If you know someone who you think may need to read this post then please like and share this article so they too can read it. I’m sure that they will thank you for it later!