Rethinking Pain

Pain Turn Down Volume 1 Pain Turn Down Volume 2 Pain Turn Down Volume 3

There is lots of great new science around pain. 

The central message is that persistent pain is a more about a learned reflex in your nervous system and is not about the tissues – even if there are X-rays showing arthritis or MRI’s showing tears.

Chronic pain nearly always involves unconscious habit, meaning and emotion, the pain experience gets divorced from what is actually happening in the tissues.

Understanding now the nervous system works turns out to be a very good intervention in preventing pain. In a recent study in Australia half an hour reading a leaflet on understanding pain plus 2 follow up phone calls, performed as well as well as 20 (!) sessions of physio for people in whiplash. Jeez.

That, together with light touch therapies (not therapies that cause pain – you do not change pain by creating more pain), movement education (e.g. Feldenkrais, pilates, soft yoga, tai chi) and de-stressing/clearing old trauma patterns (see for my preferred method) seem to be the best strategies.

Good articles
Paul Ingraham throws out some great challenges:

His self help guides are very good as well.

The opening story in the article below is really moving.

Very, very good book
Painful Yarns (2007) by leading pain researcher Lorimer Moseley is excellent. He makes pain funny, required reading I reckon for everyone, and an easy read. Only available as an ebook.

These short videos are also excellent
5 mins on understanding pain is about the nervous system
Longer, funny talk by leading pain researcher Lorimer Moseley

Good luck, its a wad of stuff to read I know, maybe start with the 5 min video.

There is lots you can do that is drug and surgery free.

Reposted from 2014 June

Creativity is the key to healthy brains and less pain: Insights from Dr. Michael Merzenich

Soft Wired from Dr. Michael Merzenich is an excellent guide to plasticity in the brain – it describes how the brain benefits from new challenges.

‘This model, I believe, is one of the keys to breaking cycles of pain. How can you creatively stimulate your control and communicating systems (mostly your nervous and immune systems) to work differently? Pain usually involves fixed stereotyped responses. These responses worked in the initial acute phases of healing (protecting the damaged tissues) but in chronic pain become entrenched habits. The brain needs new stimulation to feel safe to turn down the volume of the protective responses. There is no one way to do this that works for everyone. It is about your brain and its habits. The message from Dr. Michael Merzenich is that the more variety and creativity the better. Explore new ways of how you think about your body, how you feel your body, how you imagine your body, how you move your body.’

‘One of the lessons from this research is that stereotyping is the enemy and that you really want to exercise the brain with a variety of movements, with the variety of action and with a variety of challenge that is presented to the brain.’

‘The feelings, the thoughts about movements are inseparable from the movement itself.’

‘One of (Dr. Michael Merzenich’s) mantras is to hear, feel and taste as if he were a child again.’

Reposted from  May 2014

Inspiration for Pain Free Movement

cranial intelligence blog

I’ve Seen A Lot Dance Moves, But Nothing Like This. I Can’t Stop Watching This!


Dancers always inspire around how I can move my body.

Graded Exposure Helps Pain

‘If you perform some movement without pain that normally hurts, your brain is likely to get very interested. It is ‘good news’ that reduces threat. A major goal of any program for movement health should be to send as much ‘good news’ to the nervous system as possible about the state of the body and its ability to withstand the stress of movement’

Todd Hargrove (2014) Better Movement. p143 (A stunning book and blog)

Let’s say you have 10 muscles holding your shoulder in a given position. Let’s also say, being really simple, each muscle can be on, off or halfway. That’s three options per a muscle. That is already 1000 (10x10x10) options on how to hold your shoulder…

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