Getting in Touch With Your Pain

Pain is not a bad thing.  It is not a good thing either. Pain is a form of communication our bodies have with us to tell us something is going on.  Sometimes it is from pushing ourselves to the extreme, the burn in our lungs and legs with a hard run or the two-day soreness from an intense strength training workout.  At other times, pain is telling us something is wrong.  The problem we encounter is not pain – it is our cultural disconnection from it.  We cushion ourselves from pain every day: with our shoes, in our beds, with our chairs, and with pharmaceutical pain relievers.  The moment pain enters our bodies we are searching for immediate ways to not feel it anymore.  This cultural disconnection has removed us from our greatest line of defense against experiencing unneeded pain over the length of our lives… the ability to listen and learn to what pain is telling us.

Pain may be a sign of underlying issues.

I have experienced a great deal of physical pain in my life.  The work I do today is founded from learning to manage the pain I felt in my life.  In the beginning, I would ignore pain, continue to push myself harder and overcome it.  This direction only led to more pain.  As I grew older and more experienced in my practice I learned a simple lesson: I could not run away from my pain.  The more I tried to ignore it, the larger it grew until I was absolutely forced to deal with it head on.  The longer I let the pain fester, the greater the injury I found beneath it and the longer it took to heal and recover from that injury.  I learned that pain is a signal of an underlying issue.  Pain does not happen without reason; there is always a root cause.  Find and fix the root cause of pain and the pain will be gone.  Fix the injury beneath and there is no reason for pain to exist.  Let the problem fester and the injury grows and the recovery becomes more challenging.  The sooner one focuses on their pain, the sooner they are on the fast path to recovery and living pain free.

Most pain comes from postural dysfunction.  It is the movements in our lives, or lack of movement, that causes pain.  Our bodies were designed to move with great ranges of motion; with power, strength, and endurance.  As a culture we do not use our bodies design purpose.  We lay or sit motionless for most of our lives.  We sit for long hours each day: in school, college, work, in our cars, on our couches and then in our beds.  This lack of movement wreaks havoc on our posture.  Over time our posture molds to the movement patterns, or lack thereof, we utilize the most.  By not utilizing the functional design of our bodies we create injury within our posture.  Over time this postural injury creates pain to let us know that something is wrong.  Or bodies use pain to signal that something needs to change in our lives or the problem will get worse.

The tools to treat most pain are inexpensive and readily available.

With a foam roller, softball (or other massage tools), full body flexibility program, and an exercise program that incorporates functional movement patterns, the chronic pains associated with postural dysfunction can be managed very effectively.


Jesse James Retherford is a certified personal trainer and licensed massage therapist.  For over 12 years, Jesse has been passionate about helping his clients reach their fitness and health goals.

Jesse specializes in chronic pain and injury management, movement assessment, corrective exercise, and advanced sports conditioning.

Jesse offers personalized programs designed to improve performance and efficiency, reduce chances of injury, and allow you to move pain free so you can re-engage fully with your life.


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Fascia and its relationship with pain

What is Fascia?

Fascia is a continuous web of connective tissue that exists throughout your body. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and organs are connected through this web, binding these structures together and creating a three-dimensional matrix that connects you from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. It consists of several layers: a superficial fascia, a deep fascia, and a subserous fascia. For the purpose of this discussion, I will talk about deep fascia.

Deep fasciae are tough, dense connective tissues surrounding individual muscle fibers, muscle bundles, and groups of muscles. Fascia shares many of the same properties as muscle, allowing it to contract, relax, and hold tension, just like muscle tissue. Fascial tissues are full of nerves — including sensory receptors to detect pain — and also play an important role in movement derived from muscles, tendons, and joints (proprioception).

Imagine plastic wrap. Your muscles are wrapped tightly in multiple directions by these fasciae. The interconnected nature of fasciae means tightness in one area of your body can be directly connected to painful areas in a completely different area.

What is fascial pain?

Healthy fasciae are relaxed, pliable, elastic and flexible. When you are healthy, your fasciae can absorb the forces that are created when you move.

With trauma or repetitive use injury, adhesions and scar tissue form in the fasciae. When you experience trauma — from a fall or accident or through repetitive strain — the surrounding areas become tight and restricted, affecting range of motion and stability throughout the body. Points of restriction in the fasciae place pressure on nerves, bones, muscles, and adjacent fasciae, causing chronic pain.

Fascial pain is probably the most common cause of musculoskeletal pain (Imamura et al 1997 as cited by Starlanyl and Copeland 1996, Starlanyl 2003, and Javaid 2010). If you are experiencing acute or chronic pain, fascial dysfunction may be the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Deep Tissue Fascial Massage

Deep tissue fascial massage therapy is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat pain and restore range of motion. This is accomplished using traction, stretching or direct pressure; relaxing contracted muscles; increasing circulation; increasing venous and lymphatic drainage; and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fasciae.

The end result is fasciae that are softened and stretched, with the release of painful knots.


Imamura, S.T., T.Y. Lin, M.J. Yriyrits, S.S. Fischer, R.J. Azze, L. A. Rosgano and R. Mahar. 1997. The importance of myofascial pain syndrome in reflex sympathetic dystrophy.” Physical Medicine and Rehabitation Clinics of North America. 8:207-211.

Javaid, Ahmad. Myofascial pain: Understanding the Injury Process. 2010.

Starlanyi, Devin J., and Mary Ellen Copeland, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Survival Manual. 2001. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Survival Manual.

Starlanyi, Devin. 2003. Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain: Keys to Diagnosis and Treatment.

Ward, Patrick. 2010. Notes on Fascia.

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