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What Do You Know About Your Pain?

What do you even know about pain?!

I am sure that you have experienced physical pain before. Maybe you injured your back lifting weights. Perhaps you hurt you shoulder when playing catch with your kids. You may even have irritated your knee when training for that marathon you are preparing for.

However, do you really understand your pain?

Pain is a difficult thing to conceptualize as there are so many factors that influence it. When looking at a cadaver we cannot see pain. Pain is something the brain senses, processes and ultimately creates a response to.

The human brain is a pretty amazing thing.

The brain is constantly making predictions allowing us to function effectively. For example, imagine that you are climbing down a flight of stairs at night. Your brain is expecting the next step to appear at exactly the same distance from the previous step. However, as I’m sure many of you have experienced, we often misjudge when the last step will appear. We become startled when our foot hits the floor in a different manner than our brain predicted.

Pain is also a prediction. As pain continuously occurs during a movement or activity, the brain will learn to expect it. This expectation eventually must dissipate for pain to ultimately disappear during the aggravating activities.

Imagine that you have lower back pain every time that you attempt to lift something off of the floor such as deadlifting a barbell in the gym or emptying dishes out of the dishwasher. There is not one “cookie cutter” back pain treatment for this.

The brain has an expectation that this bent over position will hurt. Therefore, similar positions must be explored in treatment where pain is not present to provide an unexpected result.

The brain will learn not be threatened in these positions, ultimately decreasing pain when performing activities that involve these positions.

As I had discussed in previous blog posts, the root causes that lead to the pain must be addressed for pain to ultimately be resolved. However, the movements that result in pain must also be de-sensitized for a full and pain free return to sport, training or life.

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