So much of what we know and do can be attributed to motor memory and social learning. Since humans are creatures of habit, our bodies tend to develop routines and make them second-nature.
Motor memory is the reason that we can complete certain tasks without even thinking about it, such as driving, walking, and riding a bike. Social learning refers to the way we often unknowingly pick up on the knowledge and behavior of others.
Each of these principles can help or harm the quest for chronic pain relief. And, especially during a time where misinformation can run rampant, nothing should be taken at face value.
For this reason, we decided to debunk some common adages related to pain:
This phrase is sure to make any wellness professional cringe. A rule like this should never be applied to rehabilitation or pain management protocols, whether they include strengthening and resistant exercises or gentle stretching.
No activity that makes you healthier should cause any level of pain, but this is a common mistake that many people make while they grin and bear it “for the sake of their health”.
Common sensations during exercise and functional activities may include slight soreness, pressure, and exertion (perceived by people as “being difficult”), but none of these should extend to include pain.
The validity of this statement isn’t quite as straightforward. “Motion is lotion” does ring true for many painful conditions, as it emphasizes that moving more (in any capacity) will eventually make general mobility easier.
However, “rest is rust” is not as clear-cut. It is important to give our bodies time to recuperate, whether we feel we need it or not. Always remember to listen to the signs of your body and mind, as this is key in recognizing when rest is crucial.
This myth typically comes as advice from “surgery-happy” doctors or acquaintances who have had surgery and swear by it for pain relief. In some severe cases, surgery may be what is needed to realign joints, remove significant inflammation, and repair muscle injuries. However, there are a plethora of non-surgical (also called conservative) methods that can have more powerful effects.
Conservative treatments such as stress management, diet modification, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, sleep hygiene, light exercise, and body awareness techniques can all make a world of a difference in managing chronic pain.
Each one of us has likely experienced minor aches and pains. Perhaps you slept the wrong way the night before or carried too many grocery bags at once. Understandably, this type of pain may become more frequent as you age due to normal changes in our muscles and joints. Minor soreness usually subsides with no lingering issues.
However, chronic pain is a completely different story. Debilitating, persistent pain is not -- I repeat, NOT -- something we should have to deal with day in and day out.
This type of pain stems from an entirely separate mechanism, and will not simply go away in time. In fact, chronic pain has the potential to worsen if it is left unaddressed.
If you are the type of person who consistently overdoes it -- at the gym, in your home, socially, etc. -- you may find that this is true quite often. However, if done right, working out should not increase your pain levels. If you are in some pain but you feel motivated, gentle exercise can absolutely help your pain levels.
Some good ways to engage in light exercise are chair yoga, stretching, going for a short walk, and swimming. This can help ease general muscle and joint stiffness that may be contributing to your pain.
While there are many ways options for pain relief, we advise that you reach out to a healthcare professional for reliable information. If you opt for independent learning, be sure to do your research and only trust credible sources.
For a more personalized approach, reach out to us and schedule a free strategy session with a Pain Mentor now!