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Woman rubbing low back due to pain

How emotions lead to back pain

back pain pain relief stress Aug 02, 2021

Note: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.

Pain is a really weird thing. Usually, we associate pain with tissue damage - like when you step into that same hole in the yard (AGAIN!), and twist your ankle leading to swollen, irritated tissues that prevent you from walking comfortably for days.

But pain can be the result of your brain’s response to any threat - not just tissue damage. It is literally your brain’s way of saying, “Hey human! Something in your environment isn’t safe - but don’t worry - I’ll save you by preventing you from moving to keep you from stepping into the danger zone!”

And the best way the brain knows how to immobilize you is by making it painful to move. In many instances, pain is a well-intentioned method use by your brain in an attempt to keep you safe. [read more about the language of pain here]

Tissue damage is an obvious threat and the resulting pain is a trigger that immobilizes you, giving the damaged tissue plenty of time to rest and repair. Yay pain for helping you to heal!

But tissue damage isn’t the only kind of threat we face - stress and uncomfortable emotional states can also trigger your brain’s threat response [read about other surprising causes and solutions to back pain here]. And if you have ever suffered from low back pain, you know that it can be debilitating - you’re definitely not crossing into the danger zone with an achy low back.

Is work feeling a little stressful these days? That low back pain means you can’t sit at your desk for the day, so I guess you just have to call in.

Do you have a tough conversation coming up with a loved one? That low back pain makes it too uncomfortable for you to drive to your meeting location, so I guess you’ll just have to postpone that hard talk to another time.


Your brain just wants the best for you, but it’s good intentions can literally be a pain in the back!

To add insult to injury, fear of pain tends to cause us to avoid movements that may actually be helpful for our bodies, and the worse you think your pain will be - the worse it feels.

So once you’ve taken care of whatever trigger was causing the pain in the first place (decreasing your work stress or finally having that tough conversation), the pain might still linger, throwing you into a chronic loop of discomfort (we’ll dig into this more next week!)


So what can you do about emotionally triggered back pain? 

  1. Understand the difference between pain and injury
  2. Check out our favorite unconventional exercises for LBP (lower back pain)
  3. Join us for our August workshop Live Back Pain Free to learn how to nip your pain right where it starts - in the brain!

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