Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

No Pain, No Gain: Another Cautionary Tale

Mr. Dragondancer passed along a piece of newsworthy information to me the other day. (This is one of the joys - or irritations - of being with someone for a long time; you feel the need to keep your significant other up to speed on all things.  In most cases, I'm the one honking at Mr. DD on the informational highway.  He's probably come to dread the phrase, "Did you know. . .?" as I read aloud from the newspaper or an online site.)

To continue, Mr. DD tells me that there are people who use ibuprofen on a regular basis before they exercise.  They do this to push through aches and pains in order to exercise longer.  As it turns out, this is not a good idea.  Recent studies show that taking ibuprofen to avoid pain can cause all sorts of unpleasant and dangerous side effects, including suppression of the immune system, kidney dysfunction and the charming condition known as "endotoxemia," in which bacteria from the colon leak into the bloodstream. You can read more on this issue by clicking here.

I was astonished that people used this drug for this purpose.  (Yes, sometimes I do think I live under a rock.)  We experience pain for a reason; while a strong stretch from a pose can improve flexibility and break down scar tissue, pain is a sign to ease up on whatever you're doing or discontinue the activity until the damage has healed.  

There are all times when we've pushed through pain.  We may get caught up in "competitive yoga," when we try to keep up with others more practised or more flexible than we are.  Fibre artists spend long hours working at their wheels, needles, looms, etc., especially when there is a sales or teaching deadline to be met.  I've experienced neck and shoulder strain, leading to persistent headaches, this past week, as I finish the items for a craft sale this weekend, although I know perfectly well that working through pain is not a good idea.

"Soldiering on" is seen as an admirable trait in our culture, but we cross a line when we attempt to ignore or anticipate pain completely.  Our bodies are telling us to rest and relax, to give ourselves a chance to heal.  We can and should take medications when they become necessary to the healing process, either physical or emotional, but not as a means to ignore our natural defences.

I'm finished preparing for my craft sale. I still have two or three holiday gifts to knit, but I'm giving myself a day or two to recover before I continue.  Yesterday, Kerri gave a wonderful "Neck and Shoulders" class at Bodhi Tree in the Relax and Renew session.  The session was just what I needed to ease the headaches from all that hunching over knitting.  I may still need to take a painkiller at some point, but once again, yoga shows me the power of our bodies' natural healing mechanisms.  

The next time you are tempted to reach for that bottle of ibuprofen or whatever drug in an effort to prolong your favourite activity, consider reaching to the sky first.  Stretch that body with a few poses, take a breath in meditation and remind yourself that "Not Doing" is a good thing, too.


Public Domain Image from Google



  1. Isn't it awful that people have come to use, rather, abuse over the counter pain medications.

    1. They're encouraged to do so, a culture which promotes the idea that pain is to be avoided at all costs.