Discomfort Required

I’ve been rehabbing a nagging hamstring injury the past few weeks. In typical Andria fashion, I tried to run through it, put it off for too long, and then found myself reluctantly in physical therapy. It was there that I had my first experience with dry needling. If you aren’t familiar with this technique, it is a process of inserting acupuncture-type needles into the injured area and moving them in a piston-like fashion to untangle the muscle fibers. When we nurse injuries like I tend to do, the muscle fibers get all knotted up, and this tangling prevents healing. Dry needling untangles and enables the muscle to heal. You can get a more detailed description on google because I didn’t do it justice. (I apologize to my very skilled physical therapist for dummying down a great technique and procedure!)

Anyway, I don’t have a problem with needles. I have six tattoos and have had acupuncture, so I was up for this challenge. Anything to make my hamstring better so I can start running again! Well, let’s just say I had no idea the type of discomfort that was involved in this process. I cannot quite explain how it feels other than it causes a spasm in your muscle (and for me a decent amount of pain in some spots) that literally had me holding my breath until my physical therapist reminded me to keep breathing. The first two times I had it done, I sweated profusely. I attempted to describe how it feels to my sister and she said, “OH! Sounds like a contraction. Did It feel like a contraction?” Um. I never had babies, so I have no idea. But good heavens, it was a high level of discomfort that made me squirm while being required to remain still (and relaxed – ha!)

When I left the first session I was sore (as if I’d been bruised) for about 24 hours, but what followed was the most comfort I had in over three months.  All that discomfort (for a total of about 15 minutes) led me to some of the most relief I’ve had in months. This made me think of how often we avoid doing things that create discomfort in life.  Even though we know it will bring relief or improve our situation, we don’t do it (whatever “it” is) because we don’t want to deal with the discomfort “it” entails.

For example, people stay in bad relationships or jobs they don’t like because leaving can be hard, and change is uncomfortable. But once you actually go through that discomfort, there is relief.  It was a similar situation with a client who had to deal with some financial issues but was avoiding calling a financial advisor because she didn’t want to deal with the discomfort of having to expose her financial situation. However, once she did, she felt as if a huge burden had been lifted – relief!  Another client avoided a hard conversation of terminating an employee because who wants to have those uncomfortable discussions? However, after she did it, it was a huge relief, and she wished she’d done it sooner.

Although discomfort doesn’t always precede relief, experience tells me that some of our greatest relief is often the result of pushing ourselves through uncomfortable situations. And, sometimes the pain we are enduring is a lot worse than that discomfort which will bring relief. Sometimes the painful situation is familiar, so we’ve become numb to it; however, once we experience the relief we wonder how we ever endured it for so long. Just like with my hamstring, I found myself thinking “why didn’t I get myself into physical therapy two months ago?”   I could have already been running again!  The fact is, we do it when we’re ready, and sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we deserve comfort and relief. Sometimes the road to get there requires discomfort.

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