I deal with the issue of movement in the midst of pain each and every day. In fact, I’m convinced that the essence of most therapy sessions can be reduced to the single question, Which way do I have to move in order to feel better? If some portion of the session does not address this, something important is missing.
Rather than approach this question from the traditional avenues of force, range or speed, I want to focus on the nature of the movement as it is formed in the patient. For our purposes, I am not discussing passive movement here, but, rather, any motion classified as active in the parlance of physical therapy.
For a long time I’ve had the impression that movement that relieves pain is creative in nature, as opposed to that which strengthens or lengthens us. Movement of that sort I refer to as productive. In David Whyte’s lecture, The Inner Necessities of Leadership, he makes the point that the workplace has always in the past asked for more production. Production can be coerced, measured and legislated if need be, and any management strategy must employ those methods if it hopes to succeed.
But in the postmodern workplace employers are as likely to ask for creativity as production, and the old methods of management are not going to work for the simple reason that creativity cannot be coerced from another. Nor can it be measured. After all, what would 20% more creativity look like?
This problem of managing creativity can only be resolved by understanding the origins of that process itself, and Whyte reminds us of the common knowledge that creativity arises from an internal conversation. It is the kind of self-examination and soul searching that virtually every artist engages in for prolonged periods. Without an intimate invitation from the manager toward the worker to engage in that, creativity cannot be expected, only production.
Think of the modern therapy department. Designed to hold numerous stations for the application of modalities and exercise protocols, there is precious little space for any patient to engage in the internal dialogue creative movement requires. Of course, if strength and range are all that is required for recovery, there is nothing lost here. But the vast majority of painful problems will not respond to repetitive movement choreographed by another. If that works particularly well for non-pathologic problems, it’s news to me. Regimens like this are productive, to be sure, but individually acquired problems of deformation would have no reason to improve like this, unless by luck.
When your patient needs to create a movement, they will need an invitation that promotes unique expression, instinct, and, to some extent, courage. I say courage because the creative process invites failure into their life. This is why so many avoid it. In my opinion, when someone says they are left brained and therefore unable to see a certain concept or develop an idea in a certain way, what is actually happening is that they are avoiding the internal conversation that the right brained are willing to risk. Just my opinion, nothing more.
The manual technique I employ in order to promote creative movement is Simple Contact. It begins with the premise that within the unconscious processes of the person in pain (or those without, for that matter) exists a strategy for expression and correction and new patterns of use that will (among other things) prove effective for pain relief. It is simply a matter of moving in a certain, creative way.
As David Whyte says, this manner of being cannot be coerced or easily measured. It must be understood, respected for its human nature, and invited to emerge. When therapists do this, therapy takes on the human face of creativity, and together we all improve.
Author’s note: For more information about the work of David Whyte, go to his web site http://davidwhyte.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org or write Many Rivers Company PO Box 868 Langley, Washington 98260