There are a thousand ways that we know of to handle pain when we have it. Let's use low back pain as an example because most of us have had it at one time or another. I can start with some Advil if that takes care of it and then move on...
What if the pain doesn't respond?
Or what if Advil worked at first but now it doesn't work anymore?
Should I try something else or just ignore it?
There are tons of other things going on in my life and I don't have time to hurt. I saw this thing on YouTube... Someone said on Instagram that I should....
Let's start with knowing how our bodies work. First of all, we don't feel pain in our bodies (what?!), we feel it in our brains. Yep. Our bodies send signals, and our brains interpret those signals. It is interpreted in the context of our current situation, our past experiences, and many other factors.
1. That means if I have low back pain that I've had before and know it's from moving furniture yesterday, I'm not worried about it. It may not bother me too much.
2. It also means if I'm sleep deprived, just got into an argument with my significant other, am trying to give up chocolate, spilled my coffee, and then get a paper cut, it might feel like my finger will FALL OFF.
We also get better at what we practice because of different types of memory in the brain. If I practice my Cobra, my forehand, my free throws... I'll get better and better at them. I will execute those movements more quickly and readily when needed. The same thing happens if I "practice" pain in the brain. This means experiencing pain over and over again.
Obviously, we don't want this, so while some of us may have the instinct to ignore pain, I recommend treating it! Pain is an interesting experience in the brain in that we interpret it in over 10 different areas. So when we have it, it is distracting, and we don't think as clearly.
With my patients, I recommend making a list. - Ice or heat? Either is fine! - Topicals: Biofreeze, IcyHot, CBD creams
- Gentle stretching
- Light cardio is good for pain management, especially walking.
- Mindfulness: meditation or prayer
- Have fun! Engaging in activities you enjoy can also help.
When you have pain, go to your list and work your way through it. If it doesn't respond, it may be a good time to find a physical therapist who can help you make sense of what's going on! You deserve to not have pain.
Meet our guest blog writer for June - Rachel Morton, DPT and friend to our very own Erin Jarrett, DPT, CPI.
She is hosting the Stress, Pain, & Movement As Medicine Workshop at Marathon on Saturday, June 12th @ 11am. Come learn how to better identify and manage your stress and pain.