07 May Train Without Pain
Pain is in your head but it doesn’t mean it’s not real.
When people first come to see us they are usually past the initial or acute phase of an injury. Even though the injury has healed there is often some degree of residual pain. From people who have torn their knee ligament requiring surgery and an early sporting retirement, to people being told they had to face the fact they will never walk again because of their Achilles tendonitis or those who have learned to live with that constant dull ache in their lower back, life doesn’t have to be this way.
How Does Pain Occur?
Whether you hit your thumb with a hammer or have a dodgy knee that is excruciating every time you go down stairs, nerve fibres are responsible for sending a message to your brain that there is a threat. Your brain interrupts that message as a pain. Your brain then sends a messages back to the original site for protection creating a feedback loop. Problem is this feedback loop can continue to be on repeat long after the injury has healed.
Why Does Pain Not Occur?
Back pain has to be one of the most common types of chronic pain I see. A classic sign of back pain is a disc bulge or more commonly known as a slipped disc. An interesting study looked at the MRI of 1211 people aged 20 to 70 and showed 87.6% of people had disc bulges of the neck. However none of the participants reported any sign of pain. So even if there is structural damage why does the brain not receive a pain message? And yet when the body has no structural damage you can still experience extreme and constant pain? The answer is still unclear.
How to Treat Pain?
Your pain is real but it is all in your brains interpretation. And you can’t snap yourself out of pain any more than you could wish to stop having depression or any other type of mental illness. Conventionally we treat pain through methods such medication, psychology or surgery. However we have found another solution that is extremely powerful, particularly when used in conjunction with traditional treatment, that being the power of movement. The secret is to recreate an environment when the body feels safety in certain movements that don’t produce the pain response. The brain starts to interpret these movements as safe and with a slow progression can be integrated into full function. For instance someone may have pain whenever they squat, we find ways to recreate this movement without pain such as distraction while moving such as picking up an moving object or by de-loading the body by placing your hands on a wall or TRX. By making the body feel safe we are saying to the body it is ok, you can continue to move this way and it won’t damage you. The sole purpose of the brain is movement, and intelligent movement has the ability to help the body regenerate.
As American comedian George Carlin says ‘My philosophy is no pain, no pain.’