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Understanding the Language of Pain

pain relief stress Oct 21, 2020
Want to hear something weird? Your brain doesn’t understand words.
Your brain - that pink stuff in your skull - understands sensory input which is anything that comes in from your five senses or gets reported by another system in your guts.
And once that information has been received, there’s a need for a response!
You’ll notice that as:
For example, if there’s a dog walking toward you, you see that dog. Depending on your experience with dogs, you might have an increase in heart rate (symptom) and be either scared or excited (feeling) and think “PUPPY!” or “Better cross the street.”
While outputs can be emotions, physical pleasure or a string of thoughts, today we’re going to talk about pain.
We’ve all experienced it.
Whether it’s a tiny twinge or a deep ache … it’s certainly not a word (although sometimes it can feel like a scream!) but it definitely sucks.
Pain is - at its most fundamental - “an experience, felt in the body, that communicates current or threatened danger.” Except in the event of tissue damage, it is not necessarily an indication of injury, but rather a request for change.
You can think of it like an "overflow" alert! One of your systems (internal or external) has communicated a level of danger that your brain thinks warrants a strong response. The “overflow” could be that you banged your knee hard or it could be stress, joint immobility, inflammation or weakness elsewhere.
One quick weird thing: Pain isn’t always felt in the area where there is an issue. Our upright posture and gait require a lot of physics to make it happen, so there are often referral patterns for pain - your brain will literally send the pain elsewhere in your body! Also, your brain’s language is so advanced that it can communicate to you in the places that are most likely to create the desired outcome! Ever suddenly gotten a headache or back pain when you’re about to walk out the door for an event you really don’t want to attend?
So how do you learn your brain’s language and work with things like back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain events?


Note: Always check with your medical provider if you suspect injury or illness. This is not intended to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
  1. Stay calm. Communicate safety to your “survival” brain by taking slow breaths, moving in ways that feel good and letting go of “Oh No!” thoughts as they arise.
  2. Ask questions and gather data about the events. My rule of thumb is: “once is an event / twice is a pattern / three times is data.” Make a mental note of the time of day, environment, precursors and what helps, as well as anything out of the ordinary in the three days before it started.
  3. Consider all potential stressors or areas of threat, not just the “obvious” ones. We often have our clients check in with : sleep, food, movement, family and work in addition to previous injuries or traumas.
  4. DO SOMETHING. Simply taking action to give your brain more information and fuel can often help with the “overflow.” If you can’t identify anything in your “threat assessment” or data gathering, start with: Movement. Temperature. Food. Purposeful Rest. Water.
  5. Ask for help! The frustration of going it alone, feeling like you don’t have tools and “just dealing with it” can actually increase pain levels. Reach out to a provider you trust - who knows your body - then take a few more breaths.
This month, we’re talking about back pain around here… that nagging, sore, achey feeling we all want to avoid. We’ll be hosting a digital workshop on Saturday, September 19th at 10:00AM on two minute drills you can use to feel better fast … but until then, stick around! We’ll be posting content all month that will give you tools and ways to work with your brain on a 1:1 basis.
You can also check out Troy’s digital download class on low back pain HERE to get moving NOW.
Stay tuned! And remember : your brain speaks TOUCH, SIGHT, SMELL, SOUND, TASTE and whatever it is your guts have to say any given day. Give it lots of attention and lots of love through healthy movement, beautiful naturescapes and engaging food and music!

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