A business is often a reflection of its owner. This is why, as an entrepreneur, your physical wellbeing matters. Pain management and an effort to move more and age well are important.
With that in mind, James has invited fitness pro Marianne Kane to talk about pain and injury, things not often discussed on a business podcast. Tune in to discover how you can feel better in your body and thus run your business better.
01:20 – Why this topic relates to business
04:02 – Navigating the minefield of different advice
06:09 – How much of our response is dictated by society
08:40 – When it’s a matter of mind over body
10:17 – How proper body movement can actually be the cure
14:20 – The things that have a bearing on injury and pain
17:02 – James’s experience with pain and mindset
19:03 – When you’ve developed a relationship with pain
24:14 – The things that made a difference for James
25:36 – What Marianne actually does to help people
28:46 – The takeaways of this episode on pain management
Why this topic relates to business
Physical wellbeing is not a topic you’d expect to crop up on a business podcast. James maintains, however, that a business will be the reflection of its owner. If you can’t operate well, your business will suffer, hence the importance of your bodily health.
“Your business will be a reflection of the founder.”
Our guest Marianne Kane is a cardiac nurse turned fitness coach. She helps people progress towards their fitness goals through simple and compassionate training methods. And it is James’s belief that she can deliver some insights on physical wellness, in particular pain management, that will be useful to this episode’s audience.
Navigating the minefield of different advice
There’s a great deal of differing opinion and practice when it comes to fitness. Though a fitness professional, Marianne had some apprehension coming on – she’s certain someone will disagree with her on something. What she can say, however, is that there’s not a black and white. Everything in fitness is usually, it depends. And so it’s best to take things with a grain of salt.
A lot of people, says Marianne, get into fitness thinking they’re dysfunctional in some way – perhaps they have persistent pain of some kind – and looking for a fix. The thing is, they don’t always find it. They might see improvement for a while, but it doesn’t stick. And they go through various methods looking for something that will last.
What is mostly the case, Marianne says, is that people are looking at just a small part of a big puzzle. They’re focusing on biomechanics and how they move, when really there are three components: the bio, the psycho and the social.
How much of our response is dictated by society
Consider when you have a young child, and they happen to fall. You’ll notice, unless they’re really hurt, they often don’t cry right away. Instead, they look up to see how their adult in charge reacts. And if that parent or sitter freaks out, then the child feels it appropriate to do the same. It becomes not so much a real reaction as socialized behavior.
You might yourself have been in a doctor or other health professional’s office and looked at posters on the wall, showing pictures of injury or inflammation. You might have thought to yourself, How frail my body is, or, There’s so many things that could go wrong with me. I’d better be careful.
The psychology and the feelings and the beliefs that you have about your body, says Marianne, play a huge role in how you move, what you believe about the movement, whether you think it’s safe, and if you get injured, or if you have pain, what you believe is going to happen to you and how that’s going to resolve.
It translates into a sort of hypervigilance about your movement. You can become very stiff and protective when what you maybe should be doing instead is trusting your body and believing in its resilience and in the fact that it can heal. And oftentimes, persistent pain isn’t necessarily about the physical damage, but the guarding and the fear that goes about what you think is going on inside your body.
When it’s a matter of mind over body
James agrees that one can become a victim, falling prey to worries that their body is degenerating and becoming frail, especially as they get on in years.
He recalls, though, surfing on the North Coast, and hearing an interesting exchange. A gentleman on a stand-up paddleboard made his way to another guy. They exchanged greetings, and the paddleboarder announced he had just had his birthday. How old are you? his friend asked. He said, I’m 75. This guy, said James, didn’t look a day over 55, and he paddled around the lineup like a kid of 20.
That gave James hope for many, many years’ worth of surfing yet to come.
Many things have impressed him with the power of mind over body. There are the people faking sickness to get off work, who then become genuinely sick. And then there are people like Wim Hof, who credits mind control with the ability to endure ice baths and overcome disease-causing bacteria.
How proper body movement can actually be the cure
James recalls a winter a few years back when he felt like he was “rusting up inside” and had difficulty moving. A recent email from Marianne presents what he thinks is the solution: “Motion is the lotion.” True enough, just moving and keeping in motion has been a transformer for him, as he’s told Dean Jackson.
In the past 12 months, James has surfed more times than there are days in a year. And his body has the least amount of pain that he’s had for at least five years. He believes both the amount and the variety of motion in surfing have brought about this benefit.
Marianne agrees. Sometimes, she says, especially as we age, the expectation is that you would have wear and tear. People should do away with that language. You’re not a machine, and you’re not wearing out your parts, because the body can heal. It’s a living thing. But also if you’re moving, but you’re afraid, you’re working against yourself.
When Marianne started in fitness, she was avoiding harm, constantly trying to fix what she thought was an autoimmune inflammation. Over time she became physically strong, but was still experiencing pain. Physios and other experts would tell her she lacked strength. How strong did she have to get, she wondered?
Exercise didn’t bother her. It was the small, everyday movements like rolling in bed or trying to walk. It turned out she was being very rigid, very guarded and afraid in her movements – that caused her pain.
The things that have a bearing on injury and pain
Whether you’ve been injured before is a good predictor of future injury, says Marianne, although it is up for debate.
When it comes to pain, considerations are, how well have you slept? How stressed are you? And also, what do you believe about pain? These things, she says, are more important than things along the line of, how are you running? Or what squat are you doing?
Marianne has been told she has osteoarthritis, and is not allowed to lift weights. Studies, however, have looked at young kids, and teenagers who were pro athletes, and they were carrying around osteoarthritis, degeneration, all of the things that we usually think are bad, but turned out to be normal things that go on in everybody’s bodies at some point. Sometimes, they matter, if you have pain, but other times, and most times, they don’t matter.
Scans, says Marianne, can pick up too many things that are “wrong” with our bodies, and doctors can paint a picture of pain and disability that is disheartening.
James’s experience with pain and mindset
It happened to James. He was diagnosed some years ago with osteophytes, making neck movement painful. He was told there was no cure and prescribed painkillers. A friend, Tamas, recommended strength exercises for his neck. Three years later he was scanned again and the osteophytes had reduced. Today he has full range of neck movement.
James is grateful he avoided believing he was disabled for life. Had he gone down that path, he believes he would now be overweight, unhappy, depressed and likely have shortened his life span.
When you’ve developed a relationship with pain
The funny thing, says James, is that he now has a healthy relationship with pain, having lived with a low-level dull pain for years.
“If you can embrace pain, you can develop resilience.”
When he gets the occasional injury, as he did a week ago surfing, he simply accepts it will take time to heal. He embraces the pain, but doesn’t focus on it, which makes it much less of an inconvenience than if he reacted negatively.
What’s interesting is the level of acceptance of pain, says Marianne. If you can correlate pain with, for instance, an injury, it’s easier to accept it than pain for which the cause is unknown. We interpret pain as meaning something is wrong, so unexplained pain is often a perceived threat.
“Pain can help us.”
If you can talk yourself off that ledge, however, and remember that pain is there to help us, there could be many explanations. While working out, for instance, are you worried about all the things you didn’t get done? Or have you been up three nights in a row with your baby, or have you been sick? If you’re not focused or you’re not in the game, these could be contributors.
Marianne used to rebel against the pain that physios told her they’d help her manage. When she learned to accept it, however, that was when the flare ups would be further and further apart. She could tell herself, then, Okay, I’ve got pain. That doesn’t mean that there’s something majorly wrong.
What Marianne actually does to help people
Marianne’s aim in her work is to help people who are worried about starting something – maybe they’ve been out of fitness for a long time because of an injury, or sickness or life just happened. They’re likely wanting to get back in safely and sensibly, and they don’t know where to start.
The right question there would be, what is something that is right for me, what’s best for me? And so Marianne recommends speaking to somebody with knowhow who can help you navigate – what would be a good frequency to start at? Or, what exercise choice would be a good one? How many reps, how many sets? Those types of things, if you’re into strength training.
But it doesn’t have to be strength training. James, for instance, finds joy in surfing – he’s out in the big outdoors, in the sea, and it’s enjoyable. Movement, relaxing, enjoying, all of those factors are the best kind of scenario for not experiencing pain.
The takeaways of this episode on pain management
James and Marianne sum up this episode with the following takeaways:
1. Our belief system is very, very modifiable. We can control our belief system, and that’s going to dictate our outcomes.
2. We can be way more aware of our body by listening to it. It’s sending us messages, if we want to tune into them.
3. A lot of people overtrain, or have underlying reasons why they’re more at risk of injury. In particular, lack of sleep, lack of focus, just overdoing it, or spending so much energy trying to do it right that they’re burning a lot more bandwidth than if they just focused on being more organic about it.
4. Don’t focus on what you don’t want to happen.
5. If you do get injured, your body heals. Let yourself recover.
6. It’s very important to find your place that makes you the most switched on or happy.
7. Move more. Don’t worry about sitting, move more.
Marianne’s membership is Equipped with Strength. She also has the Equipped with Strength podcast. Her blog is called Myomy Fitness, where all her free workouts were when she was documenting her own journey. And a recent program that she’s just launched is Get Glutes, at getglutes.com.
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