It is my quest to help foster change in your relationship and behavior surrounding pain. And I'm determined alright.
More pain equals more damage, right? Wrong! Here's why...
Catastrophic thinking is defined as ruminating about irrational, worse-case outcomes. Often it involves thinking something is worse than what it actually is. Needless to say, it can increase anxiety and prevent us from taking action in a situation where action is required. And, it's been my experience as a coach all these years, that it leads to unnecessary suffering and sometimes to unhealthy behaviors.
Usually with a pain response, there is catastrophic thinking. "Something is damaged and I need to get it fixed. Most people in pain, myself included, think of pain as a marker of injury. But, and this is a BIG BUT, if we can change our thoughts around pain, we can then change our behavior with it. I'm a good example. From a wannabe football player to bodybuilder, powerlifter, amateur martial artist, and rock climber, my thought was always, " I have pain. I'm hurt." So something happens. We have pain. Then we add onto the pain with our thoughts. But it doesn't have to be like that.
Obviously there are times when something actually happens, meaning something breaks, or tears and there is no doubt what it is. For me, during a high school football game, I was running with the ball, feeling my oats, and next thing I know, my legs get cut out from underneath me. I land awkwardly, breaking my ankle in pieces, requiring two surgeries to fix it. That's a whole different story. Pain was pain in that moment and the pain of not being able to finish the season was the added suffering. The ankle healed and I moved on. But often times, people feel pain and assume something is dramatically wrong.
So, as a coach, my role has changed significantly over the years when it comes to supporting those with chronic or persistent pain, which is a very different animal than an acute injury. In the past, I thought bad posture equaled pain. If I can fix your posture, your pain will improve. Or so I thought. Or, I would refer you out to physical therapy, where you may end up on rotation forever. Please don't get me started on that. All these years later, my role has thankfully and successfully changed. My goal, now, is to get you to change your behavior around pain. If we can slow down our reactions a little bit around the pain, maybe we can make better choices. In today's culture, we're so fast to go for imaging or some type of manual therapy at the first sign of any discomfort, and we never give our bodies a chance to do what it does best. Protect us and heal!
The old model regarding pain is akin to more of a "Security System." Meaning, it goes off when something bad happens. Someone's trying to break into our house, for example. As far as pain goes, it's like this, I feel pain, it's telling me I'm injured or damaged. But, it's usually more complicated than that.
Here's a newer model of thinking. Look at pain as our body's biggest protective mechanism. Think of it more like a smoke detector. It only goes off when there's a potential threat of injury or damage. There's pain and because of the potential for injury, it will go off. People who suffer with chronic or persistent pain just have a more sensitive system.
Our body is much smarter than we give it credit for. I know it for a fact, as I have challenged it over the last forty one years with all sorts of training and have lost every time:)