Mastering Your Pain: Self Care

The word pain evokes a plethora of responses from human beings. However, pain is still in many senses elusive. Many different theories have been presented which attempt to describe, label and categorize pain.

Many current theories point to internal factors being the center of pain, processing and  perception. In other words, the nervous system transports and allows for perception of pain.Moreover, misdirected labeling and deceptive medical diagnosis often focus on external sources as an origin of pain.

The argument is that the patient might not have sufficient strength or endurance and as a result may be causing pain. Insufficient strength or endurance may cause improper movement patterns, which are causing tissue irritation, joint stiffness, deconditioning, and pain.

However, how do patients enter into this cycle? Is it a lack of fundamental movement? Perhaps, how about a lack of strength or endurance? perhaps, but what if it’s simply a lack of motivation? You see, I believe that most musculoskeletal pain (MSP) is a motivation problem first and a movement problem second. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but if you look hard enough at the patients’ history, you will find they deal with pain in one of four ways.

  1. They avoid it
  2. They deny it
  3. They compete with it (boom / bust)
  4. They accept and learn from it

Once a patient accepts that pain is their friend and not their enemy, they have taken the first step. Most patients will agree that they have been living life below their true standard or simply being lazy. Once they realize that pain is simply a indicator of something potentially underperforming, they can begin to understand why they need to change their approach. 80% is the why, the remaining 20% is the how.

Rename The Pain

Drop the intensity! What do you think of when you hear the word pain? Probably nothing good. But if we look at how we talk to children when they become injured, what do we hear or call the pain? A boo-boo or an ouchy! What if we did the same thing? If you are sitting right now and experiencing acute back pain, stand up and move around, and call your “pain” a boo-boo. It’s hilarious and immediately shifts your focus.

Own it.

Are you able to own and control your pain through thought process? Absolutely.

  1. Identify it. Is the pain (boo-boo) truly there?
  2. Realize it’s here to help, not harm.
  3. Become very curious about your pain.
  4. Be confident that you can handle and control it.

Remember, you can avoid it, deny it, go boom or bust, or you can accept and learn how to change it. Don’t live below your true standard. Be honest with yourself. Who are you? Are you a lazy, unmotivated, sedentary human? Of course not! Your habits may be sedentary or lazy, but inside, you know that’s not you nor is it what you intended. If its a lack of movement or lack of life, why are you or why would you harm yourself? Do yourself a favor and realize that you have the same potential that all human beings have. Strength gives birth to movement and movement defines life.

6 Steps to Motivation: Get rid of the pain for good.

1. Decide what you want to feel like and why you aren’t feeling that now.

Write it down, say it out loud, figure it out. Be honest and brutal. Are you sitting at work all day? Are you eating poorly? What do you do after work? Do you watch TV, sit, become and office worker at home? Once you have that figured out, focus on what you want and why.

2. Accountable leverage

Think of something which is part of your regular routine that is causing your pain. It could be anything from sitting too much,  standing to much, or simply not exercising. Whatever it is, connect it to the pain you have been experiencing. Connect even more pain to not changing it NOW. Now connect incredible amounts of pleasure and relief to the idea and action of changing NOW!

3. Interrupt your habits

Anytime you find yourself not behaving or slipping back into an old habit, immediately do something outrageous. This could as be silly as plugging your ears and

making a face. Or it could be as insane as jumping up and down, saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” or “movement all day keeps my pain away!”

4.Own your alternative

What’s your alternative? The exercises your doctor gave you? Perhaps it’s simply getting up more often and taking short easy breaks. Whatever it is, do it and link pleasure to it. When you do perform your alternative, reward yourself. A reward may be smiling, calling a friend or playing a game you enjoy.

5. Make it subconsciously automatic

Habits are formed from repetition. The power that makes a habit breaks a habit. Get into the process of being in control of your habits, your movements, and your life. When you learn a new movement or better posture it will feel awkward. Give it time to become normal.

6. Re-test yourself

After a week or two weeks of honest change, re-think about your pain. Are you still in the same spot ? perhaps you are feeling better? Maybe you are even feeling energized and confident! If not, then go back through the process, be brutally honest with yourself and find out what went wrong.

Remember focus on the why not the how. There is no point in bashing yourself over inconsistency, just simply realize the problem and truly commit to changing it by using the steps above.


About doctoranthony
As a spinal rehabilitation specialist with over 7 years clinical experience in the areas of - Spinal Manipulative Therapy, Active & Passive Spinal Rehabilitation, Functional Movement and Orthopedic Assessment, Strength and Conditioning Coaching, Fitness Programming, Business Development, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Consultancy - you can feel safe knowing that I understand the worry and concern surrounding spinal pain. This is why self-efficacy lies at the heart of my practice. For more info:

2 Responses to Mastering Your Pain: Self Care

  1. Dan O'Clair says:

    Very well stated. I would like to post a link to this article to the facebook community, but will not do that without your permission. I would also like permission to put this article in my enewsletter with full credit to you and a link to your blog. I patiently await your reply. Dan

  2. Hi Dan,

    Thank you very much for your kind words, I’m glad your liked the post. You are more than welcome to link this to your facebook and also post it in your newsletter. I appreciate your interest. The more people this can benefit and improve their well being the better in my opinion.

    Kind Regards

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