Key words to note are “felt a pinch”, “moved”, “stiffened”.
“felt a pinch” -> this is a sensation that is picked up through the nervous system.
“moved” -> any action controlled by the nervous system.
“stiffened” -> Signals sent through the nervous system to contract the muscles in the area protect from possible further damaging movements.
So why the pain? Or our new way to look at it … “what is causing this extra sensitivity through the nervous system?”
Well if we remember that our body is ticking over between a 3 – 5 on the sensitivity spectrum and the back pain peaked up to around a 7 before reducing below 7. While below 7 is pain free, it doesn’t always mean, back to normal between 3-5. Often our nervous system in the specific area resides slightly higher, more sensitive, more alert for possibly tissue damage. Let’s say 6/10.
Now, life-curve-ball, what if Person X suddenly falls into financial difficulty (aka extra stress)?
So what? Well what kind of stress will that put on their brain (the brain being the central nervous system). It will increase most likely, so now their body daily stress level will raise to 4-6/10 on the token sensitivity spectrum we created.
That is an increase of 1 point throughout the nervous system, now remember our lower back was bubbling along at an elevated 6/10… well that extra point from financial stress will impact the nervous system as a whole, so that 6 will rise up to a 7/10.
DING DING DING -> Back pain as our lower back crosses over that threshold of 7… Person X’s old injury flares up! Then guess what happens… it’s mini avalanche time!
The pain in our lower back causes an EXTRA stress to our brain, fear that the debilitation has returned. Add another point to the sensitivity spectrum, so now it’s at a temporary 8/10! The cascade might even continue when we think about the negative impact of pain on mood and sleep and tiredness, but let’s not complicate things anymore.
What caused the pain? The unavoidable cognitive stress spiked the nervous system sensitivity, triggering an already heightened area of sensitivity that elicited fear resulting in more cognitive stress.
In the example we’ve just discussed, there has been no extra activity, no accident, no impact… “Maybe I slept funny, maybe it’s my mattress or my bed?” is often the thing people put their sudden reoccurrence of pain down to, the thing that must have happened when they weren’t fully concious. (Or maybe it was in their subconscious) .
Person X told us, nothing physical happened. So why are they in pain? Because the interconnections in the nervous system throughout the brain are so complex that it changed their entire nervous system to being much more sensitive to pain.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css_animation=”top-to-bottom”]
So to summarize what I believe is the number one way to reduce your pain is:
Do not panic when we feel pain. Take some time to understand the difference between actual tissue damage and the sensation of pain in a specific area. When we feel a slight pain, think about how it could have just happened, remember our current stress levels feed directly into this cause, so we should not get further stressed by fearing there is a return of tissue damage. The pain mechanism is there to warn you of POTENTIAL THREATS to your body, cognitive stress/threats play a large part as they all feed into the same autonomic nervous system.
So hopefully now if your old injury flares up, just while sitting all day, or driving for over an hour… perhaps it’s all the other stresses your life that driving your nervous system crazy, so don’t panic.
And hey, if you want to do a yoga class, stretch or simply move and exercise once a day, all of those things will have calming affects on your nervous system, and take you closer to the pain-free, relaxed and happy end of the spectrum.