What?? My knee hurts, what’d you mean…kick the habit?
Your reaction to pain can make life easier or harder; can make you feel better or worse. Good news, you can choose. Your immediate emotional response to pain, whether acute or chronic, can help or hinder your recovery response time. I’ll give you an example.
A few days ago I was attempting to wrestle on my compression garment/pantyhose. I wear the garments to help my lymph system function properly since cancer surgery some years ago. I love the way my legs feel in the garments but since my hip replacement four months ago, getting them on has been tricky business.
As I was contorted and pulling, I felt/heard a muscle in my side/back go pop and I had severe holy smokes pain. I was stuck, garments not on, not off and crying. I live alone. In about half a minute I composed myself saying C’mon Cin you know what to do. I hobbled to the freezer and got the frozen peas (kept in a zip lock for this very purpose). Ice on, I stopped the panic and took control of my thoughts and mindset.
1st take away: Control your thoughts. You have a moment where you can choose hope or panic/despair/fear/worry. Your everyday aches and pains are a good place to practice.
Because I practice daily creating my experience on purpose; even in a pinch, I can gain control of the direction of my thoughts. Helpful for me is that I know about bodies and injuries. The first line of defense, if you know nothing is broken, is ice and anti-inflammatory options. I usually have fast acting Advil in the cabinet and drinkable yogurt in the fridge.
2nd take away: Actions can be soothing and are more effective when you implement with a positive mindset.
Next, I had to come to grips with the fact that my day was not going to go as planned. I used all my ingenuity to get the garments off and I could barely get my sweat pants on. I was beginning to chuckle at myself. I had a mile-stone physical activity planned for this day, I had to let it go.
3rd take away: Continue to talk yourself off the ledge, if you go over the ledge, it’s way harder to recover your stability.
I really had a good grip on my thoughts by now. I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I could barely breathe or sit on the toilet, but I was choosing hope. I knew this was just a bump in the road. Because I practice looking for silver linings all the time, my brain started to do this…
Then I had the most amazing and inspiring idea. I recognized that this tweak of mine was a great teaching moment! I immediately went to the Facebook group I run-Knee Friendly Fitness, Please with Cinder Ernst, and made a video of the actions and mindset stance that I was doing. I felt enthusiastic and my hope turned to optimism and unbelievably, happy enthusiasm.
4th take away: Look early, often and habitually for silver linings.
In communication with my Facebook folks, I asked them to feel no sympathy for me. I enrolled them in the idea that I wanted to be doing my mile-stone physical activity in three days. I painted a picture of the activity and why I was so happy about it, how beautiful the place I was going to and that I would be with my best friend. On the third day I was where I wanted to be! I took a picture and posted to my folks with a big yahoo!
5th take away: Staying quiet about negative/painful manifestations or momentum help them lose steam. I do not want anyone’s worry on me.
The first day, I could not bend down/over. The dog threw up and I couldn’t clean it. Strength and rehab geek that I am, I looked for and found ways to function. I noticed that if I scooped my abs and used my legs, I could get low enough to function. Then I realized that my legs, hips and knees where stronger than I was giving them credit for. This was big! Being four months out from a hip replacement with knee drama too and I found myself feeling strong and competent. In a wonderful metaphoric way, I found that if I kept my eyes up, I could squat down to the floor. If I looked down, there was too much pain to do it.
6th take away: Keep looking for the positive aspects and you will find them
If you have chronic knee pain, you have a great opportunity to implement these steps every day! Kicking the knee pain habit is like doing a dance. Noticing what you are feeling emotionally and separating that out from what you’re feeling physically. Notice what thoughts you are thinking. Keep choosing hope. When you get some breathing room from the despair or worry of knee pain, when you can look for sliver linings along the way, when you have dominion over your thoughts…then you can get free from the bondage of pain. You will kick the knee pain habit. Will the pain go away, I don’t know; I do know that you’ll feel better. That’s what we all want after all, to feel better and to be happier. Why not start there?
7th Take Away: Ideas you get and actions you take from a hopeful/positive/good-feeling mindset will work faster and easier.