A holiday gift: pain killers
Know anybody in physical pain? I’m talking about muscular or skeletal anguish. A never-ending throb in the arm, wrist, finger, toe, foot or knee. A stabbing pulse down the back of the leg. A stiff and sore spine. A frozen shoulder. A numb neck with a permanent crick. An omnipresent burning sensation attached to ancient injury that makes it hurt to walk, sit, stand or get up from a chair or bed. A torture so long-lasting and pervading, the sorrow of it becomes part of everyday life.
I believe I have the cure for you or yours. No pills or tonics, doctors or shamans. No knives, needles or surgery. No expensive tests or torments or healing crystals or mumbo-jumbo. Purchase The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook and you might experience a miracle. Trigger Point Therapy is a simple technique to massage pain away.
Here’s the basic science: stress and trauma occur in predictable problem spots in muscle tissue. Individual fibers get “knotted” and need to be returned to their normal state. Brief periods of self-massage, administered several times daily over the course of days, weeks or months (depending on the extent of the damage), restore the fiber and allow blood to flow, letting the flesh function and stretch properly. This also makes the pain signals subside.
Author Clair Davies does an amazing job listing pains and sufferings, coupled with their causes and locations to treat them. This how-to book shows easy techniques (using a tennis ball!) to massage even the hardest-to-reach places. His writing is clear and concise, and his personal story is inspiring, especially to those with chronic pain. Like me.
Not to brag, but my recent work history is a long list of intense and often preposterous bouts of hard labor. Dig a 400-foot irrigation trench by hand. Sand 75,000 square feet of wood flooring. Lead a gang of knuckleheads in the demolition of a two-story bank vault with 18-inch-thick, re-enforced concrete walls, floors and ceilings encased in an inch-and-a-half of plate steel. Each job resulted in an unshakable new ache: a weakened back, a bum knee, destroyed feet. Top that off with, most recently, a death-defying leap and tumble from a tractor sliding out of control down a hill.
I’m a friggin’ mess.
Two months ago, this robot I call my body practically shut down. The constant physical pain, plus the heartbreaking grief from the loss of my mother, cumulated in a depressive period, intensely dark and sad.
Without exaggeration, I can say Clair Davies’ book saved me. That, plus a handful of visits to Passamaquoddy body worker and artist Gal Frey, whose healing touch deactivated some of my major trigger points. However, the most important thing was, and still is, my self-treatment. It’s hard and painful work at first, when it’s especially difficult just to touch the trigger points, let alone use the tennis ball. You need to tough out the exquisite tenderness, knowing that with dedicated effort, relief will eventually come.
I’m not totally cured yet, but I’m getting much, much better, and have noticeably less pain. My muscles have stored memories of deep and complicated damage — layers and layers of injury and strain from a lifetime of hard living. It’s gonna take awhile to make it all disappear. Until then, I use the tennis ball and stretch twice a day. Soon I’ll start a yoga regimen with my lovely wife.
Then there’s my secret weapon. Thrice a week, at low tide, I visit the ledges 200 feet from the house, harvest a bushel basketful of rockweed and bladderwort and bring it home to a huge kettle on the wood stove — not to cook; just to remove the chill of the bay. I fill the bathtub with hot water, add the seaweed and climb into the brown and green stew. The mass of warm weeds is chock-full of salts and minerals my muscles crave and absorb. Soak for an hour, at least, drinking lots of water and a little red wine. Maybe take a puff or two. Engulfed, I squish the kelp between my toes and fingers, arms and legs.
Immersed in aquatic leafiness, my body doesn’t feel pain. When I get out of the bath, rejuvenated, I stretch in front of the fire and believe that very soon, everything will be OK.