In chiropractic school, certain phrases were repeated over and over until they became scripture. Kind of like the “mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” type of thing. Except, in chiropractic school, these phrases were “sitting is the new smoking” and “motion is lotion”. Sitting is the new smoking that alludes to the slow creep of consequences that result from a sedentary lifestyle. Think of when people justify a cigarette like, “one won’t kill me!!”. Now use this logic toward skipping a workout or passing up on a walk after dinner. Now repeat this rationalization over and over. No matter if it’s used to justify sitting or smoking, the end result is detrimental to your health. Although survival is biological in nature, tending to your health consciously (limiting smoking and sitting) is a spiritual act. Think of you catering to your own longevity as a way of “lifting your spirits” so to speak. Increasing your own quality of life is spiritual. Optimizing your experience as a human is spiritual. If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out my last blog here (link to the law of attraction blog). Living with physical pain and not doing anything about it is sacrilegious in my book to be quite honest. Body = Temple and if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. To be fair, not everyone knows what to do about physical pain, or how to tackle it. It’s hard with many primary healthcare physicians neglecting to educate their patients and relying on prescriptions for pain management (que: opioid crisis). I’m not dogging on all allopathic medicine and I’m not going to cure your pain by the end of this article. But I am going to help you understand that movement is medicine not only for your body but also for your spirit.
The phrase, “motion is lotion” quite literally means how it sounds. Motion is like lube for your entire body. Your blood vessels, your joints, your lymphatic drainage, your cerebrospinal fluid. Motion helps everything glide a bit easier. The integrity of your internal structures is dependent upon movement. Let’s go a little deeper and look at this from a neurological level. “Explain this to me like I’m five” is how I like to learn so I’m going to attempt to take this approach here. You have different types of “nerve endings”. Two of them are called mechanoreceptors and nociceptors. These two have different functions. Mechanoreceptors respond to motion and nociceptors respond to pain. Still following? The two of these nerve endings have an inverse relationship. Remember middle school math? If not, that means when one goes up the other goes down. So, if motion goes up (mechanoreceptors stimulated) pain goes down (nociceptors DE stimulated). If motion goes down (sedentary lifestyle) pain goes up (chronic pain). AKA: motion is lotion. Lather me up. Any physician telling you not to move after an injury or as treatment for some type of pain needs to complete his or her continuing education STAT. Please message me directly if you cannot find a good physician to manage your pain in your area. I’ll guide you to the right resources. It should not be this hard. This knowledge should be written into elementary P.E. curriculums, *shoutout to education reform*. But seriously, the importance of movement should not be undermined. To move is to live. Motion is literally life. If your cells aren’t vibrating, your heart’s not pumping, and you’re dead. Loss of motion in the physical body equates to death. Read that again.
If we’re speaking caveman, which I like to do sometimes because it gets straight to the point: Motion- Good, Sitting- Bad. We have established that movement is medicinal for our physical bodies. How do we level this up to a spiritual act? We add conscious awareness and intention to our movements. Your parents ever use the “think before you speak” line on you as kid? Well now I’m telling you to think before you move. Functional movements throughout our day break down into five basic motions: a push, a pull, a hinge, a squat, and a carry. Opening a car door? That’s a pull. Bringing groceries inside? That’s a carry. Bending over to pick up your dog? That’s a hinge and a carry. Sitting down? That’s a squat. In ~physiotherapy~ land, we call these “activities of daily living”. So basically anything you do in your life outside the clinic can be broken down into one or more of the functional movements in the clinic. Pain with standing from a seated position? Your squat mechanics are suspect. Pain with overhead motions? Look at push/pull mechanics. Pain all the time? Each functional movement likely has a dysfunctional component. The first step I do with every single patient is explain the five functional movements and how they are at play in their everyday life. Patient education is crucial for healing. This is because healing is an ACTIVE, spiritual experience. Medical intuitive and PhD Caroline Myss explains this well in the following excerpt:
“Holistic and conventional medicine take two different attitudes toward power: active and passive. The chemical treatments of conventional medicine require no conscious participation on the part of the patient, but a holistic technique like visualization is enhanced by an active, involved patient. An energy connection occurs, in other words, between the consciousness of the patient and the healing capacity of the therapy and sometimes even the therapist. When a person is passive- with an attitude “just do it to me”- he does not fully heal; he may recover, but he may never deal with the source of his illness.”
Healing from pain therefore requires a mental and spiritual component. When assessing functional movements on a patient, we can manipulate as many muscles and joints as we want as therapists. But if the patient does not bring spiritual virtues such as awareness, introspect, sensitivity, curiosity, and interconnectedness to their bodily movements, he or she will not heal. A person must have awareness that something they are doing on a regular basis is manifesting as pain. They must be introspective and curious about what is making their pain worse, and what alleviates their pain. They must tap into their own sensitivity about how their pain changes and evolves. Finally, they must understand the interconnectivity of their body (think: ankle, knee, hip as one long chain). Never thought I would sing, “The leg bone’s connected to the, foot bone,” so many times as an adult. This is the spiritual work. This is the spiritual medicine. If you cannot harness the power of participation in your own healing by actively engaging with these spiritual virtues, you will not heal. I can show you all the rehabilitation in the world but if you are not doing your part, the issue will not resolve. It takes two to tango baby.
Of course, there is much more to the healing process than I am going into detail here. For example, each of these functional movements can be broken down into smaller functional systems (think: learning to stabilize your shoulder blade and activate your core before perfecting a proper upper body push). The bio-psycho-social model of healthcare is growing in popularity and thank god for that. Rather, somebody can literally become “a pain in the neck”. Unprocessed trauma can be stored in the body as physical pain as well. A comprehensive understanding of what is causing pain takes thorough examination. Utilizing these spiritual virtues as a resource to become an active participant in your own healing journey, will do you more good than half of the physicians listed on your in-network insurance plan. Don’t get me wrong, the right therapist will lead you down the right path. But a situation where patient and therapist understand the spiritual significance of movement, and applying these spiritual virtues to “home exercise programs”, is the only one that will result in true healing. Patient empowerment is everything. The patient needs to know their role in this process. And the only way for a patient to know how much of their getting better relies on themselves is for a physician to tell them that. So I’m telling you now. Moving your body is spiritual as it is a primary force in sustaining vitality. How you move your body is sacred too. Recognizing the functional movements at work in your life and remaining curious and open to exploring how they relate to your pain is key. Moving with intention then becomes a ritual of sorts. Does my back hurt when I go to pick something up? Are my glutes turned on? Does my knee only hurt running uphill? Conscious awareness to this is a spiritual practice! Remember: Body = Temple and catering to its needs is a form of worship.
The next time you feel an ache or pain, take the time to do this spiritual assessment. Greet your pain like a first date; find out what it likes, doesn’t like, and how it functions in certain situations. Flirt with it then lather it up with whatever brand you got because remember: motion is lotion.
**This is not intended as medical advice, this is intended for educational purposes only. Please see a certified physician to receive adequate an diagnosis and treatment plan.**