Yesterday's blog was about the fact that a lot of musicians deal with chronic pain and some of the common misconceptions around the actual root cause of this pain. Today's article is about this actual root cause and what can be done about it.
There are many ideas and many treatments in the world for chronic pain, but few really get to root cause, which is why the title of my website is “The Secret of Pain-Free Music.” The truth is hidden in plain sight.
Here it is, without further ado - the real hidden-in-plain-sight cause of the pain that so often plagues musicians: habits of tension that slowly wear down your muscles over time, especially with repetitive motions. I'm going to share with you two important aspects of this problem: how your muscles actually work, and how you work with habits.
When you hold too much tension in your body, some muscles do too much work and others do too little. The ones that do too much get tighter and tighter over time and become more susceptible to injury. At a certain point you begin to feel pain and then this pain doesn’t really go away.
Most treatments treat just the part that hurts. This method doesn’t offer a lasting solution because the tension you feel is actually a part of a larger pattern in your body. Check out this video for a minute:
As you can see from the video, tensegrity tells us that if you fail to look at the role of your whole body in your injury, you will fail to free yourself of pain. Now on to the nature of habits.
The tension that leads to overuse injuries and pain is part of your habit of how you use your body. It’s likely that you are so used to tensing yourself that you don’t even realize it any more. Habits are hidden, habits are hard to break, habits are things that feel right - that we’re used to seeing and feeling in ourselves. The hidden-in-plain-sight nature of habits is part of why I call it the “Secret” of Pain-Free Music.
How to break habit is by becoming aware of it in real-time in yourself and then to make a different choice. I can teach you to see these habits and sense them directly! When you study with me, there will be no more secret, no more mystery about why you're in pain- you’ll know what’s happening.
In sum, the actual solution to chronic pain must have the following characteristics:
Must address the role of your whole body, not just the parts
Must address nature of habits, by empowering you to become more aware of your body in action
Massage, chiropractic, and physical therapy, as great as they are, don’t focus on becoming aware of your habits while doing daily activities; they don’t focus on role of your whole body. This is why they are often ineffective at providing a long-term, lasting solution.
However, there is one method that does address your whole body and the nature habits, and that’s... you guessed it! The Alexander Technique. And jus in case you missed it, the Alexander Technique is at the core of the Secret of Pain-Free Music.
In tomorrow's blog post: What is the Alexander Technique?