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ok pain, not ok pain

Posted Mar 20 2011 3:04pm

I feel like it's worth saying something about pains.

Just as an aside, I'm still totally cursing out the massage therapist... and I'm still grateful to her for her skilled work.

The past few days we've been talking about "ok" or "productive" or "worthwhile" or "important" pain (like certain types of physical therapy or massage, or treatment for an eating disorder or other illness). That kind of pain is for sure not fun. But the benefits outweigh the discomfort. In fact, that's why we put up with the pain- as Shells said, she'd be able to run again after completing her painful physical therapy.

Sometimes, though, you guys might endure pain that's not the productive type. You might do it because you don't notice the pain, or because you believe you deserve the pain, or because you believe you're doing it to be "healthy" or "in shape."

This type of pain is the opposite of productive, important, ok, and worthwhile. It is destructive, it wears us down, it injures. It doesn't promote health, it detracts from and/or destroys health.

I once had a new client who'd spent the last few months before entering treatment eating nothing but one banana each day- and running several marathons durning that time. Her body was mess. She thought the kind of pain she was in was 1. what she deserved 2. "proof" that she hadn't "trained" hard enough or well enough, and therefore evidence she should be out there running more and farther and faster.

Well.... her belief system was 180 degrees off. Absolutely the opposite of what was accurate. She ended up in the hospital, which is exactly where she needed to be.

You guys must see this coming, but it's our old favorite Scrupulously Honest that helps us differentiate between ok pain and not ok pain. 

Sometimes which type of pain it is is blatantly obvious to everyone- like everyone would agree that hitting someone with a mallet is not an ok idea and that it causes NOT ok pain. Sometimes which type of pain it is can be clear only to us- only I knew for sure if the massage therapist was creating "constructive pain" or "destructive pain" (and it is possible for it to have been either type, depending on my particular body, what state my body was in at that particular time, her knowledge and skill level...).

It was my responsibility to be honest with myself about which type of pain it was. And if I wasn't sure, it was my responsibility to ask for advice- and at one point I did ask the massage therapist if the level of pain I was feeling in a particular spot of my body was an acceptable amount or if it could be too much- and she and I made a decision together about how to proceed. 

The examples you guys have written about are all of the "productive" and "ok" type of pain. And I've been relieved that you were all clear about that! Just wanted to point out the other type of pain... you know... in case anyone ever falls gets into a situation where they have to assess which type of pain they're encountering :)


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