Updated: Apr 5, 2020
This quote is attributed to Dr. Ida Rolf, founder of Rolfing Structural Integration. Don't let its simplicity fool you, there's a wealth of wisdom that can be gained from it and a lot of time (and frustration) that can be saved.
If I had $1 for every time a client came in and said "It's right here, if you could just work right here the whole time that'd be great!" while pointing to one very specific spot determinately.... I wouldn't say I'd be rich but I'd have A LOT of $1 bills. Pain can be very alluring. It's so easy to slip into that conviction, that the pain is in this one single spot, therefore if you work that one single spot enough, the pain has to go away. Right? Right?!
"Where you think it is, it ain't."
Pain has this incredible ability to get your attention. Especially if it's persistent or intense. And at first glance it's easy to assume that if it hurts here, then the solution must be to address it here. But the body isn't that simple; it's actually a quite complex creature with very intelligent ways of behaving & adapting.
To start, muscles, tendons, and fascia (often referred to as 'soft tissue') can span large distances. One muscle (psoas) attaches to both your lumbar vertebrae (low back) AND your femur (upper leg). Or another (latissimus dorsi) attaches at your humerus (upper arm) AND your thoracolumbar fascia (low back). Knowing this basic anatomy allows you to see how pain in your low back may not be fully addressed by working that singular spot where you feel pain, but may be better served by looking at areas further from the pain itself.
Obvious, right?! Probably not, but a knowledgeable therapist will look at both the obvious and the not-so-obvious to find the approach that works best for you.
Don't get me wrong here, while it's absolutely helpful to identify exactly where you feel pain and what it feels like, it's equally beneficial to remember that the solution may not (in fact likely does not) lie where the pain lies. Communicate with your therapist, ask questions, and remain curious to the idea that "where you think it is, it ain't."