The Rule of Four: Is This Why You’re In Pain?

The Rule of Four: Is This Why You’re In Pain?
By Kate Clabby & Kiki Lovelace

When we were in teacher training, we just about fell out of our chairs when we discovered the Rule of Four. These are the four keys to radiant health, as described by one of our Anatomy Gurus, a bodyworker, craniosacral therapist and longtime Forrest Yoga-devotee, Ellen Heed. We consider this the backbone of our teaching philosophy at Innerstellar.

1. Biomechanics

The way you hold, carry and use your body has a huge effect on your pain and comfort levels. Sitting in chairs, driving, using your phone and computer, and other common repetitive activities can cause some muscles to shorten and others to overstretch, creating imbalances and pain. Modern lifestyles don’t, on their own, condition you to be strong enough to support our own bodies, leaving you susceptible to injury.

At Innerstellar, we empower you to get stronger and feel more confident in your body, using movements and techniques in a very specific way so that your injuries and chronic pain can heal, and you can move through your exercise and your life pain-free.

In every class, you’ll do exercises to strengthen your core, back and legs in order to build support for all your different tender, tweaky or tense areas like your neck, jaw, shoulders and hips; and you’ll learn functional body mechanics to help you move better throughout your day.

2. Biochemistry: Blood Flow & Lymph Circulation

Inflammatory substances are always flowing through the body. It’s normal and natural. Some come in from the outside: alcohol, wildfire smoke, chocolate cake. Some are generated inside the body as byproducts of normal metabolic processes.

You can reduce your intake of external inflammatory substances through nutrition and other healthy lifestyle choices, and if you think that biochemistry might be a major source of your pain, we recommend talking with your doctor and/or a nutritionist.

The body also has natural ways of dealing with these substances, using blood and lymph to clear them out. But when movement is limited and joints & muscles aren’t functioning optimally, the flow of lymph and blood is restricted and the tissues literally dry out. Waste products can build up, causing inflammation and pain and making our immune systems feel sluggish.

We help you develop your repertoire of healing, strengthening, comfortable movement to help you unlock your potential for healthy blood and lymph circulation. In short, movement is medicine, baby!

3. Scar Tissue

You probably have some scars visible on the skin’s surface, but scar tissue also forms in deeper tissues areas of the body, including muscle and connective tissue.

If you’ve had traumatic injuries or surgeries, there’s likely some deeper scar tissue that you can’t see. It’s the body’s natural response to healing an injury and a part of our resilience. (Thank you, Scars, for pulling up us back together when we’re torn apart.)

But scars are not as stretchy as normal tissue, and all tissues are connected through a web called fascia (also known as connective tissue).

Scar tissue can cause misalignments, pulling and pain far from the site of the scar. The good news is that it’s not necessarily permanent: just as the body evolved to put down scar tissue to heal a wound, it evolved mechanisms to turn most scars into normal, healthy, functional tissue.

We can help it along by moving in ways that break up scar tissue. Stretching combined with strength-training and deep breathing, like how we practice at Innerstellar in our yoga & Pilates classes, can help elongate scar tissues and improve their mobility.

We also recommend working with scar remediation therapies and bodyworkers if you think a scar may be causing you pain. (Google it!)

4. Emotions

Have you ever noticed that when you’re overworked, overwhelmed, or stressed, your tweaky spots start to act up?  You may get headaches, or feel more susceptible to illness.

Your body has an internal chemical communication system made up of chemical messengers called neuropeptides and receptors for these chemicals to bind to. Emotional states of stress, grief, joy, love or pleasure are all associated with different biochemical patterns. These neuropeptides also affect immune system function and your experience of pain.

The good news is, by self-regulating your internal emotional experience, you can literally change the biochemistry of your body and find some relief.

At Innerstellar, we teach you to breathe and feel inside. It is only natural that as you turn your attention inwards to your felt experience of your breath and body, you’ll also start to develop more emotional intelligence, resilience and self-knowing.

If you suspect that your physical pain is deeply intertwined with emotional pain or trauma, we highly recommend working with a qualified therapist alongside your yoga or Pilates practice.