Have you ever experienced pain from out of the blue and you can’t remember what you did? This is a common problem I have seen throughout my years of doing massage and now as I progress into my new career in Chiropractic. Patients ask, “Why do I have this pain in my neck? I haven’t done anything wrong?”, as they are sitting in a hunched over position. The problem with pain is many people use it as an indicator of how they feel over all. I commonly hear,“I don’t really need a massage because I am not in pain anymore.” Even though the pain is gone should we really be basing how we feel by a pain signal? The answer is no way!
Let’s learn a little bit about the basics of pain. How does pain occur? To keep it simple, our body is full of nociceptors. These are little nerve fibers intertwined in our skin, muscles, tendons, fascia, joints, and many other locations including the spine. They send a signal to the sensory part of our brain when something is wrong. This all sounds great, right? The problem is once the brain has acknowledged “pain” the problem has been there awhile. How is this possible when I just felt the pain now? Our bodies have a high threshold for pain. In other words, the body has to receive several signals in order for the brain to finally acknowledge a problem.
According to a book called Neurophysics of Human Behavior, written by Furman and Gallo, the brain receives fifty conscious pain impulses per second. While that may seem like a lot the brain also receives 3 trillion sensory impulses every second! That is an amazing amount of information the brain is processing! I think we can see why using pain as an indicator for how we feel overall might not be enough.
So what is the point here? Let’s go back to the person with poor posture asking why she is having pain. She sits at a desk eight hours a day working at a computer and forgets to stretch because work is demanding. Her poor posture is causing the muscle fibers in the front of her chest cage and neck to shorten while lengthening of the muscles in her back occurs. That’s about forty hours of repetitive improper body mechanics causing weaker muscles and ligaments leading to joint instability. Now the result is this annoying pain that comes and goes and sometimes it never goes!
Pain can affect the body in many other ways including our ‘feel good’ hormones or our ‘motivational’ hormones. Ever notice that people who are in constant pain are also sick quite often? Or they want to do something to make a change, but feel they just don’t have that spark. Pain can have a global effect on the body, but what’s great is we don’t have to wait! We can be proactive and take care of ourselves. Sometimes it is the simplest things that are causing us that annoying pain. And sometimes it’s the simplest things we can correct that make everything better. Sometimes we just need guidance.
I encourage you to take time for yourself. Schedule a massage and experience the many benefits! Your body deserves it from all the hard work you do. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle and step into a calm parasympathetic mode where your body loves to be. I am happy help then share any suggestions I feel may benefit you. So be proactive and take that step to better health!
BIO: Jamie has been treating ailments of Bay Area residents with bodywork expertise for over seven years. She recently added a Doctorate of Chiropractic to her knowledge base. Her experience, education and natural ability to read the human body will have you in great hands.