Have you ever experienced a sharp pain or stabbing pinch while doing something completely routine? You’re unloading the dishwasher, and suddenly you’re wincing in agony as your shoulder seizes up, or your forearm cramps, or your back twinges sharply. What to do? Try turning to Dr. Ya-Ling Liou’s Every Body’s Guide to Everyday Pain. This incredibly useful book is an excellent, easy-to-understand guide to the cause, nature, and cure for pain.
The title reflects the book’s intention: to far better acquaint readers with the nature of their bodies: “Get ready to know your body,” it begins. Indeed: Dr. Liou is well-qualified in that regard, having practiced chiropractic medicine and healing for twenty years, helping patients deal with innumerable discomforts. In layman’s terms, she helps readers come to understand the source of their everyday pain. She explains how pain that may seem to come from out of the blue is actually the resulting accumulation of a whole range of stressors. But much like one last drop can causes a bucket brimming with water to finally overflow, one single movement or body position can trigger a cascade of hurt.
Dr. Liou’s description of how the body responds to pain — complete with clear illustrations — helps readers grasp how mechanical, chemical, and emotional imbalances all contribute. She explains how, for example, in the case of inflammation, “getting aid vehicles (our cellular relief-and-repair response) to the scene is rarely a problem for the body, but getting them out of there at the same rate of speed to make room for more relief workers or a clean-up crew, is not so easy. ” She also notes how applying ice when pain first flares up, then removing it after 10 minutes, actually works. The cold contracts and then heat expands the blood vessels, creating a surge in new flow that facilitates drainage.
The book not only addresses what to do to alleviate the pain, but how to keep it from coming back. The list of irritants that can lead to discomfort includes dehydration, sleep deprivation, repetitive movements, poor diet, stress, and much more, but there are plenty of ways to “fire-proof” ourselves against them. To buffer ourselves from stress — one of the major emotional triggers of pain — Dr. Liou recommends learning to “recalibrate the mind” through meditation. Taking a walk in the woods is actually a form of moving meditation, she clarifies: the side-to-side eye motion that such activity triggers has anti-depressant effects.
We don’t have to live with chronic pain, notes Dr. Liou, and with her book as guidance, readers now have the path to a far more comfortable alternative. It won’t require stocking up on over-the-counter pain medications or opting for drastic (e.g., surgical) steps, but it will put us back in touch with our body’s innate common sense.