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"It's Like I'm Falling Apart"

You're not. I'm not. But it feels like it, right? We all have these maladaptive beliefs - that pain equals damage. It doesn't. Pain can be something within our control, believe it or not. As defined by my friend and mentor, Dr. Zac Cupples, pain is an output produced by the brain in response to an actual or potential THREAT. Think about that word for a second. If the brain decides that we need to be protected in an area, pain will be produced. ANYTHING can be a threat. You can have actual or potential tissue damage be a threat. You can have a systemic problem be a threat. Environmental factors can be a threat. And, most certainly, words and thoughts can be a threat. What pain is NOT, a marker for tissue damage. But often these two things can be synonymous with one another because sometimes tissue damage can lead to pain. It hurts! Conversely, there are many cases in which injury and pain DO NOT match. For example. You can have pain produced with no tissue damage. I was hiking the other day and had a pebble in my shoe and it hurt like hell. OUCH! Or you can also have tissue damage and not even know it. On the same hike I must have brushed against something prickly and was bleeding. But no pain. Bottom line: pain and damage do not always correlate. As a coach, threatening language that I try to avoid with my clients and myself is something like I'm "crushed," or I'm "broken." "I damaged my ___." Or, " I have a ____ problem." Sound familiar? Yeah, me too. But not as much anymore. When we get stronger, our tissues become more resilient and healthy, thus less pain for us. It's been my experience as I age that the more fit I am, the fewer things I perceive as a threat. My goal for you as a coach, is to adapt more FAVORABLE language about our symptoms, NOT maladaptive beliefs and ideas of ourselves that we often associate with pain. What's the BIG takeaway? Get stronger and improve your fitness, folks. Work towards living a healthier lifestyle and reducing threats, maladaptive notions, and threatening, unhelpful words and I promise painful experiences will be fewer and far in between. Let us all reach our health and performance goals! Mike 


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