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Aches, pains and daily discomforts – the relationship between men’s bodies and their daily choices

There is a hardness that many men carry in their bodies that most of the time they are not aware of.

There may be tightness in the chest, hardness in the shoulders, tension in the arms, discomfort in their hips, or pain in their joints. The symptoms and ailments that men experience in their bodies can be many but more often than not they are overlooked, ignored, or simply accepted as being ‘normal’.

Many men have become so accustomed to their bodies being in a degree of tension and discomfort that the memory of ever having a body that felt any other way seems almost non-existent.

There was a time, however, when most of us had bodies that were not this way – our bodies were supple, flexible, soft, free from pain and not showing any signs of the ‘wear and tear’ that we’ve become so accustomed to. Not many of us are able to hold onto the freedom that our childhood bodies once held, some of which is due to the natural ageing process, but most of which is due to our choices.

We shape, create, make and live in bodies that are far from being in their natural order. How does this happen?

It has become normal in our society for men to accept pain and discomfort as a natural part of living. Too often these aches and pains are put down to ageing and simple life experience, with them either being completely ignored or needing constant correction by health practitioners and pain medications that manage the symptoms but don’t ever address the root cause. What if it doesn’t have to be this way?

We have more say in the pains and discomforts we experience in our bodies than what we are aware of.

We don’t need to accept pain as a normal part of life. In fact, instead we can start to turn the tide on what’s ‘normal’ by starting to look at the underlying cause that’s creating and/or exacerbating the ache or the pain in the first place.

Working with men both as a counsellor and a complementary medicine practitioner, I have seen many correlations between the patterns in the psychological and emotional states that men carry and the shapes and pains that their bodies take on board. Men carry all sorts of tensions from their work, their home, from society, in their relationships and within themselves that over time build up tensions in the body. These stresses and tensions however need not be a regular part of our lives for they are usually created from living in such a way that is not truly harmonious with who we are and what our bodies want and deserve. When we don’t appropriately address and respond to the various situations that present in life, we can put our bodies into undue stress – creating numerous forms of physical pain and discomfort in the body that can’t go away until we start to address what is making us stressed in the first place.

How we are and what we do with our bodies contributes greatly to how we feel in them. It can initiate, compound and/or exacerbate our aches and pains. Going to doctors and medical professionals is important when we find ourselves in need of this assistance, but outside of these 15 minute to 1 hour consultations there’s a personal responsibility we hold to not only look at what we’re doing with our bodies and how we are in them, but to look after them, and to support them to heal.

So if you are experiencing any bodily aches or pains, take the time to consider the possibility that maybe there is more to that discomfort than just old age or the remnants of an old sports injury – although these of course are significant contributing factors but they need not always be a life sentence. Maybe there are areas in your life that need some extra attention; something you’re not expressing to your family or work colleagues, foods you may be eating that are not right for you, movements that you are making that are not supportive or ideals and beliefs you are carrying around about what it means to be a man that influence and change your behaviour.

Each ailment, shape or configuration we put our body into is specific to each of us and is indicative of the way we live our life. We may have got ourselves into a mess, but by the nature of being in a body, we have the ability to start to get ourselves out of it.

Our bodies are amazing instruments that have astounding abilities to heal and communicate to us many things about how we’re living, but how often do we listen? Everything is lived in and through the body, therefore everything comes back to it, so it’s well worth taking the time to check in and consider exactly what it is we’re doing with (or not doing with) our bodies, and to listen carefully to what they have to say.

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    By Martin Gladman

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    Photography: Rebecca Wingrave, Photographer

    I am a sensitive and tender woman, who cares deeply about people and enjoys spending time supporting children and elderly people in my local community. I have a gorgeous young son and a beautiful partner; I love cooking, the beauty of nature and I'm enjoying more and more working as a freelance photographer.