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Old 06-26-2014, 05:31 PM   #1
Ed Ladnar
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Internal Pain

Hi all! This is my first post here at Aikiweb, although I am a longtime lurker. It's been awhile since the last active internals discussion, so I thought I would throw this post out there and see what folks have to say.

I have recently (past year or so) begun seriously training "teh internalz." Well, seriously as best I can. Been to a few seminars, seen lots of videos and read lots of web blogs and posts, but don't have a regular teacher of internals specifically. Not optimal, but I have been pretty careful not to assume I know anything and just work on basic stuff. Anyway, I have been seeing very beneficial effects from my solo exercises on the arts I do practice (mainly koryu weapons). My question is whether the following sounds familiar or not to anyone working on this stuff. I apologize in advance if this is too detailed, but I would be very interested to hear if this is a shared experience while training in this stuff or if I have perhaps gone down a wrong road.

One thing I have been working on lately is relaxing my left side - my left shoulder was obviously higher than my right due to some tension and I have been working hard on stretching it out and loosening it (I work my right side as well, but the left was plainly tighter). For the past few months, my left side has been in varying degrees of pain. At its worst, I can sometimes feel a "catch" or "tweak" in my neck/shoulder area, that feels like a guitar string of pain has been plucked along my left side from my head to my lower back. That location seems to correspond to one of these meridians we hear so much about, but anyway... It is a pretty weird feeling and weird pain. One day, I pushed through it, deliberately moving to try and feel the guitar twang, which was incredibly painful, but the end result was that the pain in that particular area decreased. I was pretty happy about that, but then noticed another, similar pain starting up along a slightly different path in my left neck/shoulder area. I am just wondering - is this sort of pain familiar to anyone else? Is it an indication of too much, or too little? Is it proper to attack the point of pain directly, or should I try to avoid it? Oddly, the former method seems to help, but I don't want to do any damage to anything by pushing to hard.

I would also be interested to hear about other types of pains, twangs, and feelings people experience when doing basic internal stuff. Another example for me is that I get really weird pain running through the front of my shoulders after a heavy suburi session, which I can't pinpoint and can't get to hurt with any specific movement. Similar phantomy sort of pain appears and disappears depending on the areas I'm training, and often it cannot be triggered or pinpointed by pressing on the spot or moving in a particular way, it just sort of hovers at the edge of my perception.

So, am I alone, or does this sound familiar? What are your "pain experiences" with internal training?

Thanks!

EL
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Old 06-27-2014, 03:08 AM   #2
tombuchanan
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Re: Internal Pain

The Chinese have a saying "grinding out sand" and I've been told that this refers to the process of getting through the "blocks" or "stoppages" that have been accumulated in the body over time.

What it often feels like to me is the "undoing" of old injuries. So there may be discomfort, I'm careful to avoid injuries while training, that area gets cleared up and then another problem is revealed. Repeat.

While I don't think this process develops 'teh internalz" by itself, my experience has been that it is a consequence of proper internal and structural training. Like a complimentary sort of thing.
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Old 06-27-2014, 07:53 AM   #3
phitruong
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Re: Internal Pain

don't think it has any to do with the internal stuffs. methink, you have a nerve pinch in one or more of your vertebrate. i have that sort of problem with my right side as we speak. i am working with my chiropractor to fix it and some other spinal alignment issues. it will take a bit of time. i usually lay on an ice pack placed along my upper spine between my shoulder blades to my neck for 15 min at a time. it keeps the swelling down and help the healing process. things that i do that help: invert table, foam roller, hanging like a monkey on a chin-up bar, get trigger point massages, stretch the chest area, do the exercises for neck injury.

also, depends on if you are an office worker or not. if you are working where you sit a lot, then you might want to change the setup to standing. sitting tends to crunch your spine. standing and work is better. if you do internal stuffs, then it would be the equivalent of practicing zhan zhuang at the same time which has added benefits to your internal practice. it will be painful in the first few months, but will get better. did some workshops with a Chen guy, and at the beginning of every session, he made us do zhan zhuang until our legs fell off, then silk reeling.

go talk to your chiropractor. good luck.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

Thanks for the replies!

TB, I have heard similar expressions and I wondered if that was what I was experiencing. I am not sure about the "undoing" of old injuries - I never injured my left neck as far as I remember - but I can feel things catching and moving around in there. Sometimes it is just uncomfortable, but other times it is quite painful. It does not feel like an "injury" though, more like working through very sore muscles (but not really like that - that's just an analogy). And yes, I view it very much as a consequence of the exercises I'm doing, not as a goal. It's just that I find it a somewhat unpleasant consequence.

PT, I would love to stand at my desk, but it is not practical with my current set up (and I'm leaving this office in a couple months anyway). Instead, I've removed the arms from my office chair and I sit on the edge practicing standing while sitting, if you see what I mean. I am fairly certain this is not a pinched nerve. I know it might sound like it from my initial description, but I am feeling things actually moving around in my neck - that "tweak" I was talking about is a physical feeling of something like a wire catching and then popping loose.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:35 AM   #5
Janet Rosen
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Re: Internal Pain

Soft tissue injury of some kind - you don't want to ignore it as a passing thing and end up with a chronic thing. My personal recommendation would be to check in with a very experienced deep tissue or trigger point person, whether the modality is rolfing, triger-point, chiro, cranio-sacral, etc and have them do a hands-on evaluation just to double check.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-27-2014, 01:04 PM   #6
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

JR, thanks for the reply. It could very well be a soft tissue injury of some kind. I definitely do not want it to end up as a chronic thing. What I am trying to discover is whether anyone else has experienced similar sorts of pain specifically as a consequence of internal training. So far I am getting a "no" vibe from the few posts and general silence. Tom Buchanan is perhaps in the "yes" category except I don't know what physical feeling he is describing when he talks about discomfort from undoing old injuries.

I am a bit distrustful, you might even say skeptical, of massage and chiropractic therapy. Actually, I am skeptical of physiology in general - like nutrition, I don't think we know more than very broad strokes about how things work. And there is an enormous amount of quackery in both areas. A massage would probably feel pretty good though! :-)
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Old 06-27-2014, 02:06 PM   #7
bkedelen
 
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Re: Internal Pain

As a fellow skeptic who is involved in esoteric martial arts, I can say from experience that navigating the bullshit is both messy and continuous. Even one's own experiences are often distorted by bias.

It might be worth your time to do some maintenance and injury prevention work like that presented in Kelly Starrett's Becoming a Supple Leopard.

I think one can make a solid case that physical therapy is not quackery, though many of its offshoots certainly are. Starrett certinaly is the best that the discipline of physical therapy has to offer at this point in time.

Last edited by bkedelen : 06-27-2014 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 06-27-2014, 02:32 PM   #8
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

BE, thanks. I agree that physical therapy is not all quackery. And physiology can certainly be a serious scientific discipline. But as in all health-related things the potential for quackery is high. As you say, even one's own experiences are subject to bias and cannot always be trusted. I will take a look at the leopard book.

however, I don't want to derail my original question with a skepticism discussion, fun as they are! Still curious - anyone out there with similar experiences with internal training pain?
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Old 06-27-2014, 07:15 PM   #9
Timothy WK
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Re: Internal Pain

Internal training shouldn't cause pain. If you're experiencing pain, you're either doing something wrong or dealing with some other sort of injury.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 06-27-2014, 11:23 PM   #10
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

OK, thank you.
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Old 06-28-2014, 01:30 AM   #11
Mert Gambito
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Re: Internal Pain

Discomfort, ranging from a feeling of tightness (damn shoulders) to varying levels of pain, can occur when your body's adjusting to a new way of using it: often during the early stages of training (as you're currently experiencing).

Along the lines of what Timothy stated, interestingly, a number of folks have reported that a part of the body that has sustained a long-time or chronic injury initially feels worse, then as one puts in the necessary practice and develops a better understanding of how to approach training, the injured part of the body begins to feel better and the symptoms related to the injury diminish, and in some cases completely abate (an example of health benefits in concert with martial benefits).

Mert
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Old 06-28-2014, 05:32 AM   #12
lbb
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Re: Internal Pain

Quote:
Ed Ladnar wrote: View Post
What I am trying to discover is whether anyone else has experienced similar sorts of pain specifically as a consequence of internal training. So far I am getting a "no" vibe from the few posts and general silence.
Emphasis mine. Correlation is not causation, that's the problem - I'm sure there are others for whom symptoms like yours correlated with internal training, but to say that they were a consequence of it is probably a stretch that people aren't willing to make.
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Old 06-28-2014, 10:45 AM   #13
dps
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Re: Internal Pain

I had similar problems and this helped me,

Dr. Ed Thomas

bhttps://m.youtube.com/results?q=indian%20clubs%20dr%20%20thomas&sm=3

bought his beginner's DVD on Amazon.com for ten dollars.

Last edited by dps : 06-28-2014 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 06-28-2014, 04:09 PM   #14
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

MG, thanks, that makes some sense to me, and thinking back, I have had pain that could be associated with old injuries, and it has always gone away with gentle reasonable practice. It does not compute that this training should not result in ANY pain. I guess I'm just trying to figure out if the weird kind of pain I described is a normal internal beginning training type of pain. It sounds like some feelings of discomfort, tension, and even some pain is normal, but intense tension and pain may indicate pushing too hard.

MM, I don't know how to separate out correlation from causation in this context. I am perfectly happy to change my question to: has anyone experienced a correlation between internal training and weird pain in the body? I am not trying to suggest that internal training is bad for you - on the contrary, its effects have been beneficial for me. Just trying to figure out what level/type of pain is acceptable or normal when rewiring the body in this way.

DS, I appreciate the reference, thanks.
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Old 06-28-2014, 04:40 PM   #15
Chris Li
 
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Re: Internal Pain

Basically speaking (from what we're doing out here), I think that Timothy is right - nothing should really cause pain. OTOH, if you have some existing bodily issues then some things may hurt a bit as they get readjusted.

It's pretty difficult to say definittively because I don't know exactly what you're doing. There are a number of people doing and teaching things that are called "internals", but they're not always doing the same things - some of them are quite different.

Best,

Chris

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Old 06-28-2014, 06:15 PM   #16
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

That makes sense. I am really just doing basics. I would credit mostly Dan Harden and Mike Sigman for my training models. I stand a lot. Try to relax. Try to use my middle to twist and turn and shift my weight around. If I am lucky my partner (romantic not dojo) pushes on me for a bit. Often looks a little like silk reeling, but more free form. It may be simply that my left side is underused, weak, and tight. I do appreciate everyone's input, but I wasn't looking for a diagnosis really, just wondering if my physical description sounded familiar to anyone.
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:32 PM   #17
Chris Li
 
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Re: Internal Pain

Quote:
Ed Ladnar wrote: View Post
That makes sense. I am really just doing basics. I would credit mostly Dan Harden and Mike Sigman for my training models. I stand a lot. Try to relax. Try to use my middle to twist and turn and shift my weight around. If I am lucky my partner (romantic not dojo) pushes on me for a bit. Often looks a little like silk reeling, but more free form. It may be simply that my left side is underused, weak, and tight. I do appreciate everyone's input, but I wasn't looking for a diagnosis really, just wondering if my physical description sounded familiar to anyone.
It's pretty easy to screw up anything to do with twisting. I'd go very slow, until you feel the tension come on - then stop what you're doing, hold and correct, and try to soften (relax) the area where you're holding tension.

Hope that helps...

Best,

Chris

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Old 06-29-2014, 07:56 PM   #18
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

Thanks! I will follow that advice.
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Old 06-30-2014, 07:09 AM   #19
jonreading
 
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Re: Internal Pain

I have/had a similar experience with this exact issue, even down to the discomfort ranging on my left side. At its peak, the feeling was similar to pinching a nerve in my neck.

After some research and a bit of anxiety that there was something major happening, a physical therapist contact indicated the likelihood that what was ultimately happening was my back was being stressed by the training. I was never told "good" or "bad", but for me it seems that a couple of reasons specific to my body may have been a factor:
1. I have a series of leg injuries from my youth that likely warped my spinal alignment and posture
2. I am right-handed and demonstrate a constant right-side orientation of bearing weight loads

After explaining what I was doing, the PT indicated that probably I was out of alignment and what I was doing was probably working muscles and postures that re-oriented my posture and the discomfort I feel/felt is primarily the muscles fatigue, inflammation and agitation of these muscles, in some cases rubbing over a nerve or bunching up in a knot.

This is not the discomfort I feel in my internal training, which is primarily an under-skin "itchy" feeling and a tightness that is not localized in muscles, but more like wearing a shirt that is too tight. I did feel some discomfort resulting from old injuries as that scare tissue broke free - this was mostly localized in my areas of surgery or where I received some serious cuts.

I say chat with your doctor. If I remember correctly, my PT ran me through a couple of exercises and pretty quickly found the warped posture and weight distribution issues. As with most men, I don't need no doctor as I will never die, so when my knee PT ended I did not continue care.

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Old 06-30-2014, 08:39 AM   #20
lbb
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Re: Internal Pain

Quote:
Ed Ladnar wrote: View Post
MM, I don't know how to separate out correlation from causation in this context. I am perfectly happy to change my question to: has anyone experienced a correlation between internal training and weird pain in the body? I am not trying to suggest that internal training is bad for you - on the contrary, its effects have been beneficial for me. Just trying to figure out what level/type of pain is acceptable or normal when rewiring the body in this way.
I hear ya -- my point was merely that the "as a consequence of" may have kept some people silent. Hopefully you'll get more responses now that you've clarified.
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Old 06-30-2014, 02:27 PM   #21
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

Jon Reading, interesting, thanks for sharing! I would not be surprised if my pain was a result of years of bad posture and a left side weaker than my right. I have been concentrating on lifting the crown/stretching out the spine and then relaxing everything around it, and I can feel that greater tension on my left side as I relax into it. Another IS/IP thing I've wondered about is whether people who are right-handed can initially feel those IS feelings better in their right side than their left (and vice versa). That has been my subjective experience anyway.

Mary Malmros, makes sense. I do feel I've gotten some good responses at this point; I appreciate folks taking the time.
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Old 07-01-2014, 09:08 PM   #22
Tore Eriksson
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Re: Internal Pain

Hi Ed,

I have no idea if this is related or not, but I have a similar experience on the outside of my left ankle. Sometimes it feels like some connective tissue gets stuck in the wrong place. Rather than hurting it's a sense of discomfort. Wiggling my foot makes the tissue return to its original position. This phenomenon appeared a few moths after I started doing some low-intensity IT.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:00 PM   #23
Timothy WK
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Re: Internal Pain

Quote:
Ed Ladnar wrote: View Post
Another IS/IP thing I've wondered about is whether people who are right-handed can initially feel those IS feelings better in their right side than their left (and vice versa). That has been my subjective experience anyway.
My experience is the opposite. Being right-handed, I naturally hold more tension in my right side. That has meant I have less bad habits to overcome with my left side

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 07-02-2014, 10:07 AM   #24
Ed Ladnar
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Re: Internal Pain

Tore, that feeling sounds familiar to me too - I have felt something similar in my ankles and other parts of the body. The pain in my neck was, I would say, a similar sort of sensation of tissue catching or being slightly out of place, just ramped up to a level where it was actually painful, beyond uncomfortable.

Timothy, interesting. I feel like, being right handed, I have a sharper and more refined awareness of things that are happening in the body on that side, so I can chase down those feelings easier. However, an alternate explanation might be that a lot of nukitsuke practice over the years provided conditioning to my right side that I was not aware of until now. If my sayabiki was better, my left side would probably be better conditioned as well!
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