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I'm confused about stretching....

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by JohnP79, May 8, 2020.

  1. BloodMoon

    BloodMoon Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've been thinking about your query regarding stretching. Sarno said that physical discomfort and pain can be caused by the brain/mind causing mild oxygen deprivation (to attract your attention). If you believe that and you also believe that even just mild oxygen deprivation can cause pain varying from mild to severe in intensity, you then won't be reinforcing this as an "I'm broken/damaged" type of physical problem when you stretch to make yourself more comfortable. I think if it were me I would consider visualizing my muscles and tissues receiving oxygenated blood during and after exercising and while stretching. Dr James Alexander talks about TMS oxygen deprivation in his book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hidden-Psy...ords=dr+james+alexander&qid=1589808250&sr=8-1 and he also has a visualization meditation that focusses on the sending oxygenated blood to the tissues. The latter is called 'Guided Imagery for Chronic Pain' and it can be download from his website here https://www.drjamesalexander-psychologist.com/apps/webstore/products/show/3402664 (Dr James Alexander). I think it's likely to be true to say that your muscles, ligaments and other tissues have probably 'atrophied' (for want of a better word) to a certain extent when you didn't exercise like you're doing now, but at some point soon, what with all the exercise you're regularly doing now, that won't be true to say, so my suggestion is to move your thoughts away from that and to instead visualize your muscles being bathed in oxygenated blood while you move and stretch.
  2. Mr Hip Guy

    Mr Hip Guy Peer Supporter

    Just want to comment on DOMS.

    As a long time weight lifter, I'm pretty familiar with the concept. After a hard lifting session, or particularly after starting lifting after a long break away from it, DOMS will usually hit and peak on the second day. It's simply the process of the muscle fibers breaking down and rebuilding stronger.

    I've also experienced them with long, very long endurance runs. Most people will experience DOMS after their first marathon, again peaking 2 days later when you find yourself unable to descend stairs. After that first marathon it takes another breakthrough event (like an ultra marathon or a particularly hard regular marathon, especially downhill) for the DOMS to occur again.

    I personally don't believe they are associated with TMS, instead just the body's bounce-back response to physical trauma.
    TG957 likes this.
  3. JohnP79

    JohnP79 New Member

    What a great response BloodMoon! I'm going to give that meditation a try. I'm almost done reading The Great Pain Deception and Ozanich also recommends the idea of guided imagery, so this works. I'm sure it is said often on here, but huge kudos to everyone who has healed and still spends their time helping others!
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  4. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    This is a great distinction. I have really, really tight hip flexors. When I sit cross-legged with an ankle up on my thigh, my knee angles up. I marvel at people who can sit cross-legged in a chair with their leg loose and horizontal. So, I've taken that engineer's approach and for years doggedly tried to "fix" my inflexibility through stretching and attempts at yoga, and never with much success. I've gotten loose to a point and then my body doesn't seem to want to go further. Since learning about TMS, I've become a lot more accepting of my body as it is. I don't stretch much at all, and I've been doing pretty well. I'm easing back into sword work (long sword) and am surprised to find the old shoulder and arm problems are gone. I just move without as much tension as I did five years ago. I think that will make me a better opponent though the only other guy in the area I 've sparred with much younger and faster than I. Well, as they say, "old age and treachery over youth and inexperience." ;)
    plum likes this.
  5. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Oh, thank you so much for this passage. What is your book? I think I've been waiting my whole life for permission to do a version of sitting on the couch. Since starting the TMS work, I've been slowly finding out what works for me and what doesn't among the many, many approaches toward moving inward and becoming more intimate with our magnificent interiors. I've done decades of inner work and now I'm going in again, through old approaches and images that have reawakened and passed others that have run their course and are spent. There's a way into meditation I still need to find. Part of finding that is not getting caught up in sorting through a hundred One-True-Ways. Rereading a little Thoreau and Emerson doesn't hurt, either.
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  6. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    @Northwood, my book is here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0834Q46SM

    As for your comment on yoga, I have been doing yoga for 20 years, and made less progress on a physical side of things than anyone gifted with flexibility would make in a month. I am the worst possible candidate for yoga. It took me 5 years to get into a headstand. I have been working on a handstand for maybe 10 years, if not more. However, I believe that yoga is one of the best things that happened to me (incidentally, I got into it because of some serious lower back problems which by now are long gone). I don't practice it to compete with anyone, even with my own self. At first, I practiced it to get connected with my body and get rid of pain in the back. Then I developed CRPS, and that experience taught me how to use yoga in order to connect to my mind, too. Yoga is another form of meditation, and, as you put it so poetically, another way to become "more intimate with our magnificent interiors".
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  7. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    I’ve found that creative parameters can really put the mockers on. Back in the day the fastest way to lock down my body was to concern myself with what anyone thought so typically any worries about performance or crafting a choreography nipped off the juice immediately. Whereas dancing for the sheer joy (you know the phrase “dance like nobody is watching”) freed me completely.

    After following Alan Gordon’s program I came to see that this rested on ‘Criticism’ and ‘Pressure’. I’ve worked gently on this over time and I realise that I actually truly, passionately enjoy the embodied, intimate experience over the external nature and repetition of performance. The former lets me inhabit my body, whereas the latter finds my mind acting as puppeteer. Hope that makes sense.

    Essentially this.

    You do write beautifully by the way.
  8. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    That you for that. I appreciate it.
  9. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Your comment here reminds me of a time some thirty years ago when I badly wanted to learn how to swing dance. So I took classes and learned how. Because I was so self-conscious and carry so much tension in my body and live so much in my head--let's just say I wasn't a natural on the floor. In that community there was a group of snobby elite dancers who had all sorts of subtle ways of communicating who was in and and who was out, and, mentally, it could put a certain kind of person right back along the wall before a middle school dance floor. Anyway, into this demoralizing pecking order came this woman who didn't give a hoot about any of that and broke all the swing dance rules and danced so beautifully, and what a joy it was to dance with her. I still remember her humor and easy grace. Your comments reminded me of her approach to dance--and to life, really. So, yes, your comments make a lot of sense. While Heath Ledger's Joker is not the most obvious source of Zen wisdom, I often find his voice saying to me, "Why so serious?" :)
  10. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I appreciate your comments. And the link to your book. Your mention of yoga intrigues me. It fits with Plum's comment about two very different approaches to dance. For a time I was very interested in yoga, but I've all but given up on it because I hurt myself so easily. I've had limited pleasurable experience with it, but as mentioned I always hurt my back at some point and now am very gun-shy of trying again. If I could find a really low-risk way into it, or an approach suited to people like me (tense, fairly inflexible) I'd be willing to give it a try. I wonder if I'd need to work with an informed private instructor. A little out of budget these days. Do you have a suggestion for a low-key way to ease into a yoga? I imagine low-key, slow, and getting-out-of-the-brain is the best direction for someone like me. Curious to hear.
  11. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I have been fascinated by the concept of a "flow state" for a while. Athletes, actors, musicians know it very well that they perform at their best when they disconnect themselves from the outside world and immerse themselves in the routine they perform. Even mere mortals like engineers or carpenters are at their best when they do not constrain themselves with limitations and boundaries, and instead let their brain and body to have a go at it. The neuroscience of it is almost obvious: your brain is focused on the task at hand and does not waste any time on reconciliation of what one is doing against what one think he/she should be doing (which is following the rules written for them by others or even themselves for themselves!). Precious CPU cycles of the brain are all used up on performing the task. There are even much deeper mechanisms involved in it that make the flow state even more powerful, but I would not dive into it for now.
    Last edited: May 23, 2020
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  12. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Now, that all the yoga studios are closed and in-person instructions are not possible, I would start not with yoga but rather with Qi gong. This is a routine that I did when I could not do any of yoga due to severe pain. Youtube is full of free videos of Qi gong, this is just one of the numerous routines that are practiced. I found this particular video the most meditative:

    Try to do it few times a day and focus on your breathing. It has to be rhythmic and steady. It takes a while and it grows on you. After few years of practicing it, now only occasionally, after first couple minutes - I am in the flow of it.
    plum likes this.
  13. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    I am familiar with Qi gong. Yes, that could be a great way to go. I'm looking for ways to MOVE in a variety of directions (as opposed to walking and biking and taking a waster to a pell (long sword terms). Thank you for your input. I do appreciate it.
  14. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Yes, yes, and yes. This is a direction I want to move my body (and life) into. Funny, regarding actors, my wife and I are rewatching The Kominsky Method, a Netflicks series about an older acting coach (Michael Douglas) and his even older producer friend (Alan Arkin). Through the two seasons, there are scenes of Douglas coaching young actors. During one such scene he says to his students something like tension is enemy of good acting and that it's important to relax. That fits with what you're saying about flow and I can appreciate the significance of it. Same for performance in a sport or martial art. As I've mentioned elsewhere I did a little work with the long sword, the real thing, and my first time around I was constantly in my head about it and obsessed with form and very tense. Years later, I picked up the sword again and go at much more loosely--and it feels good, almost easy. I'm not quick, a liability, I assure you, but there's a lot to be said about being relaxed and present Not wasting time "on reconciliation of what one is doing against what one thinks he/she should be doing"; I could hang that on my wall as a life guide for the upcoming future. I just got back from a bike ride. When I forget myself I'm fine, and then I remember and get caught up in my unskillful recollections. Qi gong, and some manner of mediation that complements my nature may be a good way to go in the months ahead. Heartening to hear about your own success.
  15. Riffdex

    Riffdex Peer Supporter

    Stretching is really important for the body. By stretching you’re not reinforcing the idea that it is something physical. It is a (typically) daily maintenance habit similar to brushing your teeth. You can stretch daily without reinforcing any ideas, similarly to the fact that you can brush everyday without believing your teeth are decayed and going to fall out any moment. So try to think about the stretching objectively. Is it going to be beneficial to incorporate some static and dynamic stretches across your body on a daily basis (and not just the muscles you have the impression are your tight muscles)? Yes. But should you spend all day worrying about stretching practices and protocols and implementing the perfect routine to overcome your “tight muscles”? Absolutely not. Similarly, you wouldn’t be consumed with the cleanliness of your teeth all throughout the day. If you were doing so it would probably be indicative of underlying issues that need to be addressed.
    plum likes this.
  16. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Nice perspective. And gets back to the brain, the way the brain looks at things, and how that affects the body. I like to stretch, and I like the effects of stretching. I've also gone at it as a corrective to a very unhappy deficit model of my body. I'm trying to move away from that, as well as negative thinking in general, which I'm nearly convinced is a big contributor to my pain symptoms. There is a gray area I'm wondering about. I do have considerable tightness that ramps up around my quads and glutes, so I'll work those areas with a foam roller or massage balls. But just enough to help relax the muscles. A sort of surface maintenance. I no longer think of this as "fixing" a structural problem, so much as providing some pleasant relief. I also pay attention to what's going on in my brain and continue to tell myself that source of chronic pain and tension is neurological (self-education), and then, as kindly as I can, do the work to address that as well as take a light attitude toward it and focus on other things. Thanks for your input. See any problems with any of this approach?
  17. Riffdex

    Riffdex Peer Supporter

    None at all. I think you’re going about this the correct way to overcome your old way of thinking. Keep at it!
  18. Northwood

    Northwood Well known member

    Thanks for following up. Best wishes to you.
  19. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    The longer I’m at this gig the more convinced I am that TMS is nothing more than over-thinking. Treading the same tired ground time and time again, like an over-ploughed exhausted field. There’s even a thread on here at the moment mooting whether TMS and health anxiety are the same thing... once you find yourself rabbit-holing it’s time to shakedown.

    There was an interesting study published recently that tentatively connected repetitive, negative thinking to dementia and for me this is the guy rope from Sarno to Gabor Maté. The way you live your life is your life and this translates into your health (one of many aspects).

    Book cures happen for people who are able to kick their fears and symptoms into the long grass once the idea is presented to them (ie. they don’t overthink it), so is it therefore not somewhat ironic that intelligent people (typically the book readers) struggle the most with TMS. Everything has to be figured out, reasoned, explained, and as beautiful as this tendency is it is lost when we use it to create and perpetuate poor mental, emotional and physical health. For we are creators.

    Marcia, @MWsunin12 said something brilliant a while ago and it’s become a personal affirmation during hard times;

    “you are free, be free of it”.

    as @Baseball65 would say,

    peace ✌️
  20. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    As always, right on point! But here is a paradox. TMS is a product of who we are, and, unless we turn inwards to understand why we are prone to chronic pain, we would never fully heal.

    But the hardest is to achieve a sufficient and fairly constant level of self-awareness to stop ourselves as we habitually slide down the slippery slope of overthinking and fear.
    It is in human nature to obsess, to focus, to worry, to fear. Those who were fortunate to be born on a different side of the spectrum, who live in the moment, worrying only about what happens today, not saving a buck for the future, not thinking about saying a wrong or offensive word, not feeling a hormonal rush of panic over scary things that may never happen anyway - they live their lives mostly pain free but facing other problems that we may never encounter. It is nearly impossible to have the best of both worlds, but we can strive to do better.

    The main benefit of my healing is that now I am more likely to catch myself before I slip into the paranoia of the next scare, whether it is the next phantom disease or a difficult life situation. I used to laugh at those eternal enthusisasts of positive thinking - until I realized that my negative thinking is what produces negative life outcomes for me. As @plum put it, "For we are creators".

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