Episode 3 - 17/08/2017 - Positive strain and positive pain.

August 17th 2017 |

Sorry it has taken a while to give you episode 3 of Healthy, Happy and Not Injured folks. Things have been pretty busy my end with business restructuring, having a baby and building a house all at the same time.

Being really busy has made me realise a few things though. Even us physiotherapists fall into the same traps as everyone else in life. I have recently been reading the excellent book Explain Pain by Lorimer Moseley. He puts pain into a different perspective and makes you realise there is a different way we can think about chronic pain. Moseley discusses pain along with different responses in the body systems. One system he talks about discusses the hormonal response to stress and how it can cause pain.

Pain is often a positive and necessary response to stop us from doing silly things. For example, pain stops us from holding our hand on the hob and causing a burn. So, pain can reduce the risk of a dangerous situation. However, over time in life and as we have evolved to sitting more and not moving as much, our body and mind get pain mixed up.

You have probably all heard of the fight or flight response. This is when the body prepares itself for a dangerous situation. If you look at my example of being busy with business changes, building a house and dealing with a beautiful new baby. These things are all very positive and beneficial to my life in different ways. However, my body has been in a constant fight or flight response. Constant positive strain if you like. When you are in a fight or flight status, your body produces a lot of adrenaline and cortisol. Both of these guys are really good at causing pain in your system as well. So yes, I have some back pain occasionally. The good thing is that I know what to do about it.

I stretch daily, relax and take time to lie down and breath on my foam roller and I have learned that constant positive strain can cause pain. Sometimes recognising a problem is the first stage in fixing it. I have recognised that correct pacing and taking breaks through life is really important. Making sure you move regularly decrease stiffness in muscles and keeps everything working better in the body. Think about a busy time at work and how stiff you feel after finally getting up from your chair. Make sure you don't sit for too long; especially in situations that make you feel stressed.

We often see people in the clinic for chronic pain problems. Chronic pain means pain that has been around for a reasonably long time. People usually report that they feel better when they are on holiday and can often put that down to warmer weather for example. Perhaps it is more of taking a break that changes things.

Now, it is important to note that in many cases, there is a definite mechanical load that causes a person's pain. For example, faulty posture or not moving well. However, the cycle of chronic pain and its links to stress or positive strain can play a big part in the story as well. Have a think about what you can do to change those factors to help decrease your pain.

Ross Smith