A Different Approach
By Francine Smith, LMT
When you’re healthy and you’re in pain, it’s because something is off. You’ve either overdone it and pulled something, or worked for too long in the wrong position. When this happens the solution is stretching or exercise. The pain might be excruciating but there is hope of it being fixed quickly, or at least in the near future.
When you are ill and in pain it’s another story. The pain may be from the illness or the treatment for the illness. Even a relatively small pain can be draining because your body is already working hard to fight the illness. Sore muscles rank lower on the list when your body is working hard to keep your organs from failing. Exercise, deep massage, and even stretching can be too taxing on a body already at it’s limit. When you are ill and in pain the hope of feeling better quickly is at best- unlikely.
A therapist’s goal in that moment is not to fix, but to support. Your body will heal in it’s own time, that is not up to the therapist.
The goal, instead of creating change is to support the changes that your body is already making. Gentle and slow touch helps to calm the nervous system allowing your body time to balance itself from within. It reduces pain, induces deeper breathing, and gives the connected touch that is so lacking when the only touch you feel is from medical tests and exams.
Isolation can have a profound impact on the human body, and although a person may be surrounded by people everyday the pain can make them feel a million miles away. Gentle touch brings back that connection. Simple, present, and attentive touch that doesn’t require anything in return. A slow back rub, gentle compressions on the feet, or even just simply holding a hand can bring peace and connection back to a chaotic and overtaxed body.