You're stronger than you think
Written by Mitchell Robinson
Your body is strong and capable of handling huge amounts of loading, bending, stretching, pulling and twisting. Most physical things you do are well below the threshold at which tissue damage happens! Consider the following:
- The average spine can withstand more than 2000 lbs of pressure!?
Changing how you view your body, from viewing it as fragile and weak, to strong and capable of adapting, can help with your pain experience.
- You went through adaptations to get in pain and you can go through adaptations to get out of pain!
Your pain alarm system can get turned up and become overly sensitive. But it can also change back and desensitise. This is because we are ‘bioplastic’. It is biologically implausible to think you’re stuck with your pain – it can change!
Are you ready to break free of your pain?
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- You aren’t dead!
I know that because you’re reading this blog post! And if you aren’t dead, you can adapt and build up your tolerance to aggravating activities.
- Lots of different things can sensitise our pain alarm system
Think of your pain like a big bucket with lots of different taps dripping into it. There’s a work tap, a relationships tap, a sleep tap, a physical activity tap, a money tap etc. When life’s going great, our bucket may be half full – we can handle life’s stresses! However, sometimes our stress taps are turned on full-bore and our bucket overflows giving us pain.
- You can become more sensitive to life’s stressors
Continuing the analogy above, you aren’t stuck with your bucket size. It can get bigger or smaller. Sometimes the taps are only dripping slowly, but your bucket is tiny and overflowing already. In this case, your pain alarm system is overly sensitive and tasks that were once easy are now challenging and painful. For lots of us, simply resting and avoiding activity or those stressful settings makes our sensitivity worse. Your threshold for feeling pain and tolerating stress is lower. Your bucket becomes smaller.
- You can become more resilient to life’s stressors
However, things like exercise, movement, resuming meaningful activities, learning about pain and addressing the aggravating activities in your life can increase your bucket size. Small gradual exposure to stressors can help to build up your resiliency and turn down your sensitivity. In essence, you’re gradually building a bigger bucket. However, if you’ve had pain for years, you’ve slowly adapted for years. Therefore, you may need some patience knowing that progress may be gradual. (Vachon-Presseau, 2013)
If you’re struggling with pain and think you would benefit from seeing a physiotherapist for your pain management, talk to your GP. Sycamore Health has a speciality in pain management and non-medicated remedies, and would love to help you take control of your pain!
Next part in this series: What You Need To Know About Pain: Part 8
Vachon-Presseau, E. et al., (2013). Acute stress contributes to individual differences in pain and pain-related brain activity in healthy and chronic pain patients. Journal of Neuroscience, 33(16), 6826-6833.