–Johanna Putnoi, Senses Wide Open
Do you know the difference between “good pain” and “bad pain” for your own body? What does “good pain” feel like for you? Can you find the words to describe what makes this pain “good”?
As I was free-writing for this very post, it struck me how I don’t know if I/we have the language for “good pain.” “Bad pain” is much easier to describe. For instance, sometimes I feel a stabbing sensation near my right scapula after working on the computer too long. My left sacral iliac joint aches and throbs after I sit for too long. My left heel feels bruised and sore after wearing certain shoes. These things feel like they belong in the “uncomfortable/bad feeling” category.
But what is that feeling of slight discomfort during a massage, when that tender point being pressed feels, well, good, almost exhilarating? What is that feeling of wanting your massage practitioner to press deeply, almost to the point of real pain? And what do we call that sensation just prior to bad pain? There should be a name for that! Shall we call it a “near pain experience” or “pre-pain” or “ecstatic pain”? Oh, I like that last one: ecstatic pain.
So what exactly happens during ecstatic pain? Is pain actually releasing? Is that what makes it feel good? Does that feeling have to do with chi beginning to move in an area that was formerly tight and stagnant?
With this first exploration into the nature of the pain we may feel during bodywork, I’m curious to know a few things from you:
1) What does good pain feel like to you and when do you feel it?
2) Can you describe this ecstatic pain as a metaphor or simile?
3) How do you know when you’ve crossed the line from good pain to bad pain?
I’d love to hear your experiences!