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Health Buzz: Feeling Your Pain

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Sometimes our means of working around an injury can be worse than the injury itself—especially if we continue, long after the original injury has healed, to compensate unwittingly for it. Common complaints of chronic pain concern headaches, lower-back pain, arthritis pain, the remains of old injuries, or the consequences of years of repetitive gestures. Our idea of pain affects how we treat or manage it. “We tend to think of the body as parts,” explains Ryan Flowers of Hudson Valley Structural Integration, “and when our shoulder hurts, we assume that that’s because our shoulder needs attention.” He discusses the importance of treating beyond the symptom to ensure lasting relief. “In our line of work, we’re looking beyond the body as a bunch of individual parts to see it as the whole system that it actually is. Most approaches tend to focus too heavily on the symptom, and we can get a little lost, in terms of what’s actually going on if we only work on chasing the symptom around.” Structural integration, which was developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf in the 1940s, takes the whole body into consideration. According to Flowers, the benefits of this holistic view have been overshadowed by our symptomatic prejudices, which have been perpetuated over time through various aspects of our medical system. The treatment aims to create a more efficient and economical use of the muscles, conserve energy, and reduce chronic stress and major changes in the body (surgery, for example), and the therapeutic approach is gradual, gentle, and tempered to the individual.

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