Chronic Pain | Don’t Suck It In Buttercup Pt 2

Emflowerment blog 2019 Tracy O'Meara Smith

Many women suffer from chronic pain. On top of their suffering many carry outdated views and attitudes that delay or block their pathway to healing. This article discusses how we hold our bodies and unconscious behaviours can prevent the body from gaining the relief it needs.


Here’s a recap.

Many of my clients suffer from deep chronic issues and have learnt to deny or diffuse their pain and many use the term “Suck It Up”. Used as a colloquialism to instigate and ignite resilience.

However, it can be an insensitive way to encourage someone to push past their discomfort. I can totally see how it can be useful, yet not as a long-term pain management strategy.

In Part 1 I discussed how ignoring pain and discomfort can work against you as a form of pain management. “Sucking it Up” is not a viable option.

The origin of “Suck It Up was used as a slang term used by WWII pilots who were trained to suck up their vomit to avoid breathing in toxic fumes and therefore avoiding death. Arggh

However, over the last few years I have had several women who I’ve treated who hold their bodies in such a way that’s not conducive to the pain injury they carry.

This blog is about “Sucking It In”.

Habits and Attitudes Contribute to Chronic Pain Patterns

Our old beliefs and conditioning have contributed to exacerbating pain. Some of which were passed down from earlier generations

“Suck it up Buttercup” Or “Suck It In”. A term described by women to women, who suck in their stomachs to hide their feminine pot or “womb” and prevents the full extension of their abdomen. This is seen as “less than” or “improper”

After reassessing a client post treatment. I noticed she was still holding her body in a rigid pattern. I asked “Why are you holding yourself in that way. Are you still in pain?”.

Her reply – “I’m sucking my stomach in so it doesn’t stick out”. I asked her why she would do that considering the amount of pain and discomfort she was in. “I’ve always done it ever since I was a teenager because my mother told me to do it.” she said

An automatic response, passed down from generation to generation. This is true for so many women. Especially after having children. The abdominal muscle tone is lost. The flab around the stomach is not considered “desirable.” Completely negating the fact they’ve created and nurtured a human life.

Hands up if you’ve heard this or your mother said it to you?

So many body image issues arise from this one statement. Something her mother wouldn’t have been consciously aware of.

Which became a deeply ingrained habit. Something that contributed to her physical pain, and  many others.

The “womanly pot” is a symbol of femininity. In many cultures it’s celebrated as a symbol of fertility and power. It’s the space in which life is created and yet women “suck it in” and disempower ourselves and dismiss what makes us innately female.

The Female Body In Its Full Form

There was a time where the female body was celebrated. In the renaissance era, the fuller figure was exaggerated. There’s no vision of Spanx in this picture (a great alternative if you wish to have this kind of support when you need)

The woman’s body’s especially the breasts and the abdomen are extenuated and very much celebrated part of a woman’s body.

The sculpture Venus of Willendorf, was seen as a fertility symbol. It’s not completely certain if this is true however in 30 000 BCE the exaggeration on the feminine breasts and abdomen suggest this might be true.

Women of our time have a greater awareness of who they are and what they want. However, body image within our culture is something that’s constantly needs readjusting. There is a need to under the strength of a woman’s creative force, not only physically, yet in every other aspect of her life.

When in chronic pain or discomfort, you must have the capacity to let the body go. Simply let it all hang out.

It’s imperative the body have the opportunity to find its own way to healing without being impeded, physically, emotionally and mentally.

The Health Effects

What some women fail to realise that “sucking it in” has incredible health effects.

These effects are varied. The body can’t relax, nor find the relief it’s looking for.

 The body will hold itself in a defensive pattern when in pain. The idea is to allow the body to find its own way to a sense of safety. If the stomach is held in for any length of time, this restricts the depth of the breath, so air cannot get into the lungs, restricting the diaphragm.

Being able to breathe deeply is an incredible powerful way to find relief when in deep pain. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Breathing can be a useful form of pain management, it allows the body to let go and relax. It allows the abdomen to expand. The body can rest and gives the mind something to focus on other than pain. Some cannot rely on breathing alone. It is invaluable, however, to keep the energy flowing and establish a healthy mindset. It does and can give relief. It’s a means to an end for a lot of people who suffer pain.

The other health issues suck in the stomach causes:

~ Constipation

~ Tension felt in the lower and upper back,

~ Effects the alignment of the knees and hips.

~Hiatal hernia

Here’s A Solution

If you’re struggling with pain or limited movement in the lower back, or have a need to ‘suck it in” draw up the pelvic floor muscles as a means of support. Bracing and supporting the back in this manner. This is a lot more effective.

When dealing with lower back pain, it’s important to note that some women (and men) will suck in their stomachs as a means to brace themselves when they lift themselves off a chair, couch or picking something up. The abdominal muscles are used to support the lower back.

However, there’s a better and healthier way.

By drawing up the pelvic floor region, this activates the transverse abdominal muscles. As an added bonus for women it also helps to strengthen the pelvic floor. A weak pelvic floor can become an issue, especially after having babies, and later in life. It can lead to prolapse of the bladder, accidentally urinating and unable to hold. Many accidentally wet themselves through laughter, a strong pelvic floor can prevent this.

Yogi and women’s business coach Lisa Fitzpatrick, has written the book The Complete Guide to the Pelvic Floor. This book explains the benefits of having a strong pelvic floor and the exercises to accompany it. By doing this you’re using the correct postural muscles and strengthening them in the process

When in pain, the body needs to have the opportunity to heal.

Having old attitudes of postural alignment work against the body and not with it.

The need for comfort and relief is paramount when dealing with physical issues. Sucking the stomach in impedes the body’s natural way to healing. It the needs the opportunity to relax and find relief that’s long term and not a short term solution.

Sucking it in and up is an outdated way to manage pain.

As a Bowen Therapist I see so many gain relief by accepting what their bodies can and can’t do. They surrender to where they are at and respect the limits their physical injuries or ailments give them.

Correct pain management gives peace, relief and new perspective, which is best for self-esteem, mindset and over all well-being. There’s no need to Suck It In Buttercup

Please check out Part 1 Chronic Pain Don’t Suck It Up ButterCup.

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