Why do we get stuck in a persistent pain cycle?
When we’re in pain, we are constantly reinforcing the message that our body is broken and needs to be fixed. The sensations we feel reinforce this message and the advice we hear from medics reinforces this message.
I’ve heard so many people tell me that their consultant can’t believe their range of movement. One of the worst quotes I’ve heard was “with a scan like that I’m surprised you can walk”
Both your mind and body believe this story and that’s because these ideas are held deep in our bodies. It’s reflected in the way we move, stand, sit even how we lie down and rest.
If we have this story playing in our head our body is guarding against further injury, against any unexpected movement. This is valid at the initial time of experiencing pain but these patterns often get stuck even when the area has healed.
There are a variety of reasons that caused your body to start protecting an area including:-
- an illness, injury or deterioration of tissue
- high levels of stress creating increased tension in the body,
- physical contraction caused by a nervous system that’s got stuck in a stress response state.
At the start, these reasons were totally valid but our body is designed to heal and often the initial physical adaptations are no longer needed but the holding pattern stayed.
For instance, if you fractured a collarbone and had your arm in a sling you should be given movements for your shoulder once your collarbone has repaired. Even though the shoulder was never injured.
In order for the collarbone to repair you couldn’t move your shoulder. This will have limited the movement of the joint and the whole body will have started to create adaptations or holding patterns.
These holding patterns will have changed your posture and how you move.
Our body isn’t made of separate parts if one area changes will have an impact on other areas in your body.
What may have started as a shoulder issue could end up causing problems in your opposite hip or vice versa.
In this example, once the initial injury has repaired all of the initial holding patterns are no longer necessary. But we’re often not told this and were not shown how to unravel some of the unnecessary patterns that developed in our body. Which is one of the reasons some people struggle to recover from a short-term injury.
A similar pattern of overprotection can happen when conditions in your body have changed due to illnesses, ageing or stress.
This may be hard to read,
but it’s not your fault,
your body was doing
what it’s designed to do.
Your body was never given the signals that the acute problem has passed so it keeps doing its job.
In fact, it does it so well that it takes on the belt and braces approach of limiting movement even more.
But with a new understanding, and gradually introducing more movement your body can shift to manage any remaining issues in a less conservative way.
If you’ve tried so many things and still experience persistent pain, understanding this concept is a key aspect to dialing down your pain.
When Our body releases the need to protect areas we’ll find more esea of movement,and have more energy to live a fuller life less burdened by pain.
This isn’t only my opinion, there’s tons of research and evidence supporting this idea.