Posts Tagged ‘chronic pain’

How does a client achieve success with Function First?

Monday, May 20th, 2019

In this part of the interview, Anthony shares several client success stories and what the transpires during the process. Exercise is the vehicle, but there are plenty of other elements that must be in alignment as well.

Neuroception, Relationships and Clients in Pain

Friday, May 10th, 2019

Originally written for ACE Certified by Kevin Murray

No doctor can write a prescription for creating relationships. They are hard-earned and complex undertakings, particularly with people in pain.

Part of what makes pain so distressing is its lack of predictability. Experiencing pain feeds into a negative reinforcing loop of uncertainty, up-regulating cognitive stressors such as fear, apprehension and anxiety. This often runs parallel with clients’ difficulties in regulating their emotions (Hamilton et al., 2004).

Woven into the fabric of all relationships is the principle of reciprocity. For the health and fitness professional, navigating the arena of pain and relationships requires one to become acquainted with the nervous systems role in analyzing risk and safety.

Neuroception: The Mind’s Mediator

Neuroscientist Stephen Porges coined the phrase neuroception to describe the neural mechanisms involved with subjective perception and evaluation (Van Der Kolk, 2015). Specifically, neuroception helps individuals distinguish whether a situation or individual is safe and trustworthy, or dangerous and distressing.

danger safety

To the individual experiencing pain, their unique view of the world is interpreted through a nervous system that has an altered perception or risk and safety. Every day situations can become fearful and ambiguous, often resulting in maladaptive appraisals of people who are unknown or unfamiliar.

Experiencing pain has one’s neuroceptive system on overdrive, constantly seeking out potentially threatening stimuli. This state of cognitive hypervigilance makes cultivating relationships exceptionally formidable. To combat such psychosocial stressors, successfully establishing relationships with clients in pain involves understanding the underlying mechanisms which enhance positive neuroception.

This process is governed by innate biological systems that once understood, becomes the inception of all meaningful, heartfelt and trusting relationships.

Mechanisms of the Mind

    Mirror me: Mirror you

Have you ever noticed that when someone is genuinely smiling (even if you don’t know them), you find yourself smiling back? What induces this instinctive mimicry? Why do we yawn when we see someone yawning, or wince when someone smacks their shin on a coffee table?

The neurobiological mechanisms responsible for such nonverbal imitation is regulated by highly sophisticated visuomotor neurons referred to as mirror neurons.

mirror neuron

This mirror neuron system (MNS) allows for two individuals, whether lifelong friends or two complete strangers, to simultaneously share neural activity as they attempt to decipher the meaning behind each others nonverbal gestures. The MNS is the gatekeeper of assurance and safety, escorting the manifestation of positive neuroception and is decisively involved in the emergence of all trustworthy relationships. As such, understanding the mirror neuron system’s innate bias towards familiarity and reciprocity becomes a crucial distinction with regards to clients in pain.

    Brain-to-Brain Dialog

For instance, when two people are in-sync and rapport is mutually harmonious, the MNS is fully engaged. People adopt one another’s facial expressions, hand gestures, postures. even acute motor movements without even knowing they’re doing so (Chartrand and van Baaren, 2009). This is known as automatic imitation. Interestingly, being deliberate and purposeful in the mirroring of others nonverbals (intentional imitation) can also facilitate this same mirrored neural activity between two people.

Similar neurobiological functioning ensues via verbal communication. As an illustration, when two individuals and their speech patterns converge, they adopt one another’s vocal qualities such as tone of voice, tempo of speech, even specific words and phrases. Once again, this takes place without any conscious awareness. These neural dynamics lead to mirrored neurological activity between the speaker’s brain and the listener’s brain. This is referred to as neural coupling (Stephens et al., 2010).

matching brains

In fact, have you ever experienced such high degrees of rapport where you almost knew what someone was going to say right before they said it? This is no fluke. Neural imagining via fMRI technology reveals that when two people are in-sync and engrossed socially, the delay between speech production and the listeners comprehension is so small that one can often anticipate what’s going to be said next (Hasson et al., 2011).

These anticipatory responses suggest as two individuals become acquainted with each others verbal propensities, the more attuned and mirrored their neurological activity is. Neural coupling highlights how verbal imitation can breed a sense of relatedness and commonality, ultimately nurturing the perception of safety and enhancing positive neuroception.

However, when two people are out-of-sync with their nonverbal mannerisms and verbal speech patterns, this brain-to-brain coupling vanishes (Stephans et al, 2010). When incongruencies are present, the perception of safety slowly fades and gives rise to uncertainty. If clients in pain fail to see aspects of themselves in their health and fitness professional, the more likely skepticism has the opportunity to settle in.

In-depth Analysis

The role mirroring plays in socials interactions is ubiquitous. In fact, visuomotor mimicry is so innately hard-wired that one-month-old infants display the mirroring tendencies of smiling, sticking their tongues out and opening their mouths when observing such behavior in others (Lakin et al., 2003).

As two people learn how to navigate the social complexities of interpersonal communication, what are the neurobiological intricacies involved in learning and interpreting the intended meaning of another individual’s linguistics / gestures? Let’s analyze the MNS in-action through a common example:

    Spoon Feeding and Neurobiology

As a mother brings a spoon to her infant son’s mouth for the first time, is the child aware of the next sequence required in this exchange? Does the baby open his mouth wide, accommodating for the size and shape of the spoon? Probably not.

Instead, a blank stare of bewilderment is undoubtedly written across the infant’s face. It’s not until the mother visually demonstrates the spoon-to-mouth action that the infant can comprehend what’s being asked of him.

    Sequence analysis

The infants MNS observes their parent demonstrate the action of spoon-to-mouth (intended outcome).
This creates a visuomotor representation and engages the infants own perceptual-motor circuitry.
The infant can then synthesize the visuomotor representation (action-potential) into motor execution, resulting in the reciprocation of the desired task: i.e. successfully transferring food from spoon-to-mouth for ingestion.

Here we witness the MNS and its architecture having the remarkable ability to transform passive observation, into perceptual understanding and then motor execution (Ferrari et al., 2005). Daily social exchanges such as handshakes, waving hello or goodbye, observing laughter or witnessing sadness all involve the MNS and neural coupling effects.

The mirroring of facial expressions can even result in actually adopting the emotions and moods of others (Lakin et al., 2003). This outcome is recognized as empathy, or having the capacity to understand the feelings of others and view the world through their unique perspective.

The interplay between biological and environmental factors requires more sophistication as our social surroundings increase in complexity. This makes congruent communication and mimicry as a medium for cultivating trusting relationships significant, particularly with clients in pain.

So how can you, the health and fitness professional apply these neurobiological insights with your clients in pain to enhance positive neuroception and ultimately establish relationships?

Integrating Neuroscience into Relationship Building

It’s essential to remember what distinguishes the client in pain from general clientele is their altered perception or risk and safety. Never forget, from the moment you meet your client in pain, they’re skeptically evaluating you and how you conduct yourself. As such, taking special care to remove as much uncertainty and unfamiliarity as possible becomes the primary focus. This process begins with the practice of adapting your own verbal and nonverbal mannerisms to match that of your clients.

For example, when communicating verbally, congruency is essential for positive neuroception. Suppose a client begins describing his story of musculoskeletal challenges with soft and gentle vocal qualities. He takes the time to articulate and pauses often. Attempting to mirror and reciprocate these vocal mannerisms follow the neurobiological prerequisites to manifest neural coupling

Should the client also be sitting on the edge of their seat and leaning forward, following suit and mimicking this seated posture engages the visuomotor neurons of their mirror neuron system. Intentionally integrating and reciprocating these verbal and nonverbal idiosyncrasies serves to enhance the possibility of cultivating positive neuroception.
Kevin coaching

IMAGE TAKEN FROM THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD: A 4-part framework for coaching clients in pain
The matrix of mirroring possibilities includes paying attention to your clients nonverbal features such as facial expressions, eye contact/gaze, body position and proxemics (personal space) and his or her idiosyncratic hand gestures.

Verbal and vocal aspects could encompass specific words or phrases they frequently use, paralinguistic qualities such as tone of voice, rate of speech, vocal modulation and volume, or demonstrating appropriate levels of silence should the client be reserved and introspective. Knowing which aspect(s) to mirror comes down to actively listening and observing the uniqueness of each clients’ communication tendencies.

As clients in pain begin experiencing coherence and familiarity in your communication conduct, their skepticism is superseded with impressions of trust and certainty. Their perception of safety and assurance increases as positive neuroception begins planting its roots.

And while the genesis of cultivating relationships varies from one individual to the next, attempting to enter each client’s world and speak their language helps to nurture the inception of meaningful, heartfelt and trusting relationships with your clients in pain.

The Four Seasons of Chronic Pain

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Written By:
Kevin Murray M.A.(pending), CAFS
Movement Masterminds – CEO
Function First – Director of Education
2012 CSEP CPT of the Year

For individuals’ living with chronic pain, the long-range forecast is often filled with metaphorical rain storms, treacherous winds and long, dark nights. When pain is present, the most noticeable characteristic of a client’s changing climate often revolves around biomechanical restrictions and movement limitations. Perhaps not so obvious (yet often just as burdensome) are the emotional and psychological factors involved with experiencing pain on a regular basis.

As such, in order to create a truly unique, multidimensional strategy for individuals’ in pain, expanding beyond the optics of biomechanics and connective tissue principles alone a becomes imperative. Let’s take a walk through the four seasons of chronic pain and examine how you can help your clients transition smoothly through each one.

The First Season – Winter (fear)
Winter is the first season of chronic pain, where the radical change in climate significantly impacts an individual’s emotional and psychological well-being. The narrative chaperoning this season is generally one of fear; fear of movement, fear of pain worsening, fear of the unknown. This fear can reach such heightened states that just the anticipation of pain is enough to steer an individual away from doing the things that matter most to them. Imagine avoiding an activity altogether because of the anticipation of pain, rather than in response to it!
Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.30.54 AM

When such avoidance behaviors manifest, it’s clear that approaching the chronic pain demographic solely from a biomechanical perspective is an incomplete approach. The neuromatrix theory of pain proposes that the output of pain is regulated by afferent sensory mechanisms in conjunction with cognitive inputs (Melzack, 2001). These cognitive inputs have the capacity to upregulate and exacerbate states of anxiety, apprehension, depression, self-doubt; all of which fall into the category of psychological/emotional stressors.

It’s these stressors which contribute significantly to winters burdensome climate. To clients in pain, winter’s dark and onerous atmosphere can sometimes seem like it’s going to endure indefinitely. Successfully helping clients’ transition out of winter requires an understanding of one critical distinction; the difference between a clients ‘external’ and ‘internal’ problem.

The Second Season – Spring (awareness)
The melting of snow, dissipating precipitation and the alchemy of animals awakening from hibernation are all welcomed signs that winter’s season is changing. To the health and exercise professional, guiding clients’ towards these more desirable climates lies in understanding each client’s internal problem.
Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.37.58 AM

All clients in pain have two global problems. The ‘external problem’ is the biomechanical or anatomical concerns each client reveals during their initial consultation. Consider the client who has been experiencing knee pain for years. That’s the external problem – the knee pain. The ‘internal problem(s)’ however are the area’s in life which hold the most meaning to individuals negatively impacted by chronic pain. The internal problems are the emotional, psychological and social/environmental stressors that are 100% unique to the individual.

For example, consider a husband and wife who spend meaningful time together each day walking their dog. However, in recent months the husband’s knee pain (external problem) has become so problematic that it’s preventing him from participating in the most meaningful aspect of his day, which is connecting with his wife via their evening walk (internal problem).

A clients’ emotional transition from winter into spring begins with his or her health and exercise professionals’ gaining awareness into the clients’ internal problem(s). This awareness then provides an opportunity for both the coach and the client to begin scripting a new, more desirable narrative based on what the individual client values most.

The Third Season – Summer (possibility)
For any seed to blossom and reach its full potential, a conducive climate is required. To clients in pain – fear, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and negative self-talk are the metaphorical weeds of cognition. If these weeds are ignored, they can uproot any forward progress. During the summer months, the seeds of possibility must be nurtured, and the cognitive weeds must be pulled on a regular basis.
Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.45.38 AM

As with any journey, minor setbacks and moments of self-doubt are to be expected (particularly when chronic pain is present). Because of this, granting clients permission to steep themselves in the process of constructing future-oriented, growth-focused possibilities becomes essential.

The Yellow Brick Road refers to this process as a ‘Possibilities Paradigm’ and involves 4-chapters, each designed to amplify and reinforce a clients’ emotional and psychological resiliency & well-being. When successful, these 4-chapters begin to stir hope & optimism back into each clients’ current and future script.

The Forth Season – Fall (self-regulation)
The fourth and final season bears witness to clients’ returning to pain-free living. And while there are a host of ingredients chaperoning any given pain-free transformation (biomechanics included), a clients’ capacity to accurately assess and regulate their emotional states (self-regulation) is a primary contributor in overcoming his or her internal problem(s).
Screen Shot 2018-11-09 at 8.49.33 AM

Contrast the experiential difference in self-regulation between a client stating, “oh no, I just threw my back out again!” vs. “my back tightened up, but I know it’s just my body trying to protecting me.” These are two completely different emotional reactions, the former reverberating sentiments of fear and the latter signifying the perception of safety and protection.

Preventing clients from experiencing negative emotions is, of course, not possible. However, as health and exercise professionals, we can strive to cultivate a climate that enhances each client’s self-regulation competence and help them identify and overcome the emotional and psychological stressors that contribute to their pain. Importantly, you can begin this process with your client even before you have conducted his or her biomechanical evaluation.

Reference:
Melzack, R. (2001). Pain and the neuromatrix in the brain. Journal of Dental Education. Vol. 65. 12, pp. 1378-1382.

Health pros interested in learning more about the Yellow Brick Road curriculum through the American Council on Exercise can click on the image
Screen Shot 2019-01-10 at 2.50.11 PM

An Overview of a Function First Initial Visit

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

We are regularly asked, “what does a visit at Function First look like?”.

Function First founder Anthony Carey takes you through an overview of what that first 2 hour appointment is all about and why it is so pivotal for so many.

Be sure to take note of the differences of how we approach our process compared to what you might experience elsewhere. Even if you are an existing Function First client, this video will be great to share with friends who you know can be helped by what we do.

Please pass along to those that are ready to take a powerful step forward with a movement based program that is backed by science.

The Department Store Approach to Pain

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Written By
Kevin Murray, M.A. (pending)
Movement Masterminds – CEO
Function First – Director of Education
2012 CSEP CPT of the Year

THE SIZING APPEAL

The Small, Medium, Large concept to clothing that all department stores embody seems like a straightforward, pragmatic approach to sizing. If the article of clothing fits, you’re golden; If not, you’re either going up a size, or down. But what about those that fall between the cracks? Or above, or below those labels?

s-m-l

I constantly run into this predicament. Sometimes a small is too tight. Other times a medium drapes off my shoulders, which was a good look for me in the 90’s with skateboard in hand – not so cool anymore. I often wish there was a size “smedium”, right in between at that “sweet spot.”

Perhaps you can relate… maybe your frame deserves a “marge”, right in between medium and large.

ATTENTION ALL “SHOPPERS”:
DUALISTIC THINKING IS OUT-OF-DATE & NO LONGER IN STOCK!

Am I really posting up an article about clothing? As much as I dig fashion, the department store approach is actually a metaphor for the movement industry in many respects, and its modus operandi to complex pain problems.

For example, you may be familiar with conceptualized strategies such as:

• Tight hips = stretch em’
• Weak glutes = strengthen em’
• Noticeable swelling = ice that sh#t
• IT Band irritation = foam roll those puppies

A dualistic, department store approach emphasizes that although all individual’s move differently and come from different backgrounds and cultures, there are essentially only 3-types of people – small, medium and large. Chronic pain on the other hand is complex, embodying dynamic dimensions that encompass myriad variables expanding beyond the optics of biomechanical and connective tissue principles alone. A diverse approach to sizing is needed.

GEORGE ENGEL’s BPS APPROACH:
TAILORED FOR ALL SHAPES AND SIZES – SINCE 1977

Progressing beyond (but not excluding) biomechanics and connective tissue, a 3-dimensional approach to working with clients’ in pain include a vast variety of biopsychosocial ingredients and considerations:

• Systems theories
• Empathetic listening
• Uncovering client’s’ values and beliefs systems
• Establishing client trust
• Providing educational dividends around the context of pain
• Explaining the protective purpose that pain serves

are all in play when considering the Neuromatrix and its influence on how we collaborate with, and coach our clients’ in pain.

canstockphoto23418414

SUIT YOU, SIR

Working with the chronic pain demographic is much like being a tailor. Each individual comes in with unique dimensions and constraints; different outcomes and desires. A tailor is seeking to understand where specific attention needs to be placed. A tailor asks questions like:

Why doesn’t their clothing fit?
Have they ever been to a tailor before? If so, what was their experience?
How will we know when a successful amendment has taken effect?
What is their specific outcome?

A tailor considers multiple dimensions into his/her analysis and thought process, outside the shackles of unidimensional constraints. Instead, diversification is personified, driven by the uniqueness of each individual and their articles of clothing.

Individuals’ in pain each have their own unique articles of clothing (yes, we’re still talking metaphorically here) that need specific attention and consideration. If you can meet your clients’ unique needs, much like a tailor does, than you’ll have accomplished something truly special in your clients’ eyes.

Amidst the waves of uncertainty that accompany working with individuals’ experiencing chronic pain and relinquishing a dualistic/department store thought-process, above all remember you’re interacting with another individual – and not a mechanistic instrument. Be kind, be empathetic, and as often as possible seek to understand rather than judge.

“The quality of the therapeutic relationship appears to be more predictive of success than any theoretical approach of the helper.” John Nuttall

Compartmentalizing Chronic Pain

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

When an individual’s identity and belief about who they are is based around their capacity to be active and athletic, we can predict his or her fears. So what happens when chronic pain no longer permits an active lifestyle?

What happens next is an internal dialog of perception and meaning begin to take root… and how well one can direct their own thoughts, beliefs, emotions and assumptions becomes significant.

Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance.
.
Businessman with lots of choices

The question then becomes “what is Cognitive Dissonance ?”and how does chronic pain fit into the equation?

Cognitive Dissonance “is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.”

For example, no matter how much an individual may believe… if they’re heading east looking for a sunset, that idea and belief will inevitably run up against irrefutable evidence. This naturally will manifest an internal conflict.

In the context of chronic pain, wanting to go to the mountains for an afternoon of skiing with friends & family may be high on an individuals values list. But a belief that skiing will lead to further knee damage or an increase in pain will surely create a conflict. These psychological inconsistencies (dissonance) and the inherent uncertainty they bring can become difficult to manage – overwhelming for many.

Conflicting beliefs and values evenutally feed into an individuals psyche’, establishing negative neuro-associations based around the context of pain that can contribute to the overall pain experience.

What’s more, physical and emotional pain can negatively influence an individuals’ thoughts, feelings and beliefs regarding movement and exercise, inhibiting one’s capacity to remain consistent with how they define themselves – known as their identity.
Connected puzzle pieces with words CONFLICT and RESOLUTION

Our role as movement professionals and coaches is NOT to change an individuals identity or belief structure, but rather create an environment to EXPAND their capacity to understand what pain is and what purpose it serves.

Arming each client with insight and knowledge into the latest in pain science can help them consciously direct their own thoughts, emotions, assumptions and beliefs regarding chronic pain, which can establish constructive psychological associations and increase their ability to effectively compartmentalize chronic pain.

Written by:

Kevin Murray
Movement Masterminds – CEO
Function First – Director of Education

Neck pain from your eyes?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Chronic pain is complex, resulting from many inputs processed through the nervous system and the brain. As humans, we rely heavily on our vision to assess and navigate our environment and maintain balance.

Visual references are also one type of input the brain relies on to determine a potential threat to the organism. For example, have you ever found a bruise on your body that did not hurt until you noticed it there?

For those suffering from chronic neck pain, vision provides a great deal of feedback about cervical range of motion along with the mechano-receptors in the joints and soft tissue. The endpoint a person sees when turning his or her head and experiencing pain combines with a cluster of other information occurring at the same time to form the neuro-representation of the pain experience in the brain, or what Melzack (2001) calls a “neuro-signature.”

Harvie et al. (2015) investigated the role of visual feedback on neck pain. The researchers used a virtual-reality apparatus to alter the visual proprioceptive feedback that subjects received during cervical rotation. Subjects were seated with their torsos fixed to avoid contributing motion from the thoracic spine during cervical rotation. Twenty-four subjects with chronic neck pain were assessed for the onset of pain during cervical rotation to the left and right. They were asked to stop when they felt pain and to rate it on a scale of 0-10 at the point in the rotation where pain occurred. Each subject was then fitted with a virtual-reality headset that provided six different visual scenes for six trials. The image below is taken directly from the study by Harvie et al. (2015) and shows an illustration of the set up.

bogus vision article

Researchers manipulated the virtual-reality scenes so that the visual cues did not match the actual cervical-rotation distance that subjects achieved on all trials. The virtual rotation provided by the headsets was either:

• 20% more than the actual rotation
• the same as the actual rotation
• 20% less than the actual rotation

This bogus visual feedback of plus or minus 20% made the subjects perceive that they were rotating their cervical spines 20% more or less than they actually were.

The results showed that when rotation was understated (subjects perceived their rotation was less than it actually was), pain-free range of motion increased by 6%. When rotation was overstated (subjects perceived their rotation was more than it actually was), pain-free range of motion decreased by 7%.

This study provides additional evidence to support the findings that pain is not generated solely from tissue damage. The bio-pyscho-social model acknowledges multiple inputs contributing to the pain experience.

Vision is one of many contributing inputs that the brain processes when assessing a threat to the body and therefore produces pain. The association of a specific neck range of motion identified visually, coupled with information from the motor system and proprioceptive system, creates a confirmed reference for past pain experiences. In other words, we’ve always had pain with this set of circumstances (neuro signature of matched proprioception, motor function, vision, vestibular), so we are supposed to have now. Hello pain.

It is plausible that visual input can also influence pain in other areas. For example, if a client has lower-back pain, forward flexion of the spine will bring her eyes closer to the floor, possibly presenting a painful or pain-free experience, depending on the client.

When designing a corrective program for clients where you believe the visual field is a factor, you could vary the visual field to minimize the visual association related to painful movements. Or you could keep the head still and create the motion you want from the bottom up-creating relative movement of the cervical spine in relation to the thoracic spine.

Interested in learning more about how we, at Function First and the Pain-Free Movement Specialists work with the chronic pain population? Enrollment is available only until April 29th here.

Melzack, R. 2001. Pain and the neuromatrix in the brain. Journal of Dental Education 65(12), 1378-82.

Harvie, D.S., et al. 2015. Bogus visual feedback alters onset of movement-evoked pain in people with neck pain. Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0956797614563339.

Beyond Biomechanics and Chronic Pain Clients

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

The following video is an exchange between Function First Director of Education Kevin Murray and myself on the critical portions of the bio-psycho-social model. These are aspects of the client that we have to respect, acknowledge and consider when working with those in chronic pain. Understanding the interplay between the 3 pieces of the BPS model help you provide the most effective intervention possible.

The Haunted House Effect and Your Chronic Pain

Friday, October 30th, 2015

By Anthony Carey M.A., CSCS, MES
Founder of Function First
halloween 1
(all photos are property of Nightmares Fear Factory http://www.nightmaresfearfactory.com/)

We’ve all heard the saying “frozen with fear”. It’s that brief but profound period of time where something is so shocking or terrifying that one can’t move. The body does not respond because the brain is overwhelmed with the danger at hand.

Or consider what happens to your body and your mind the moment you have the fright of your life in a haunted house. The image above is from the web site Nightmares Fear Factory. They are hugely popular images on the internet of visitors caught at a moment of time inside the Nightmares Fear Factory’s haunted house.

If we got a little “sciencey” here and thought about all the things that happen to the body as this photo is taken and for the short time thereafter, we would observe:

1. A huge dump of stress hormones enter the blood stream
2. The heart rate and blood pressure spike
3. Blood vessels dilate
4. Breathing gets rapid and shallow
5. Muscles all around the joints contract and stiffen the body
6. Posture instinctively goes into a flexed protection mode
7. Ensuing movement is guarded and apprehensive

Now let’s imagine these events happened within the first 5 minutes of a scheduled 30 minute tour through the haunted house. They still have 25 more minutes to take part in an experience where the tone has been clearly established as frighteningly intense.

So what happens when they approach that next corner that they can’t see past? Are they relaxed and at ease? Absolutely not! Their body will reproduce the identical events it did from the first scare. Except all of those responses will happen BEFORE they even get to the corner.

As they cautiously approach the blind corner and their body is in full anticipation mode-anticipation of the next blood curling scare-they ultimately see that there is nothing there. No threat exists at this corner. Yet their body and mind went through all the same events as if the next big scare actually took place. That pattern continues through the remainder of the tour with each anticipation of the scares almost as physically and mentally real as a scare itself.
halloween 2
The source (which we can’t see) that created those responses in the photos is not the only part of that scare experience. Although likely not as obvious to those in the photos, the entire experience includes the people they are with, the smell of the room, the temperature of the room, the sounds and even how their clothes fit. And as the remainder of the tour continues, they all become part of the biological, psychological and social contribution to that experience.

So what has this got to do with someone dealing with chronic pain? The scenarios can be almost identical except replace “scare” with “pain”. Let’s say for example that after a long flight you felt a pop in your back as you lowered your carryon from the overhead bin. You begin to feel your back tighten up and you experience the pain ramping up as you exit the plane. Beginning with the “pop” you felt, you would begin to experience those same 7 traits listed earlier. And whether you realized it or not, the physical pain itself is not the only part of the experience. The people you are with, the smell of the airplane and then the terminal, the temperature, the sounds and even how your clothes fit all become part of the biological, psychological and social contribution to that pain experience.
halloween 3
These combined elements begin to form a neuro signature or neuro representation in your brain. Over the next couple of days as you are recovering from this episode, you experience those 7 traits any time you anticipate potential threat to your back. This could be something as familiar as putting on your socks. Some movements may in fact provoke pain but others may not. Yet the net result is very similar in terms of your physical and mental response.

You can clearly see how patterns emerge that are counterproductive to your long term goals. And the reality of this is that we can’t and you can’t explain your way through process. Yes, you need an understanding but your body and brain also need proof. This is where a strategic and structured corrective exercise plan can create the movement confidence you need to no longer anticipate a threat when the threat is not valid.

Pain is a very complex experience for everyone. And many people will attempt to chase one aspect or another of their pain. The science now tells us that we have to look at the entire bio-pyscho-social context from which chronic pain is experienced.

Don’t live your life waiting for the next ghost or goblin around the corner.

Happy Halloween!

Are Biomechanics Still Relevant for the Client in Pain?

Friday, May 29th, 2015

This video shows a powerful sequence of 3 corrective exercises that we use at Function First that can positively effect lumbo-pelvic-hip function.

Here is the second installment of the “Understanding Pain” series

We hope you’re enjoying our Understanding Pain Series thus far.

Have you ever had a client in pain present no biomechanical “red flags”? What course of action did you take? How did you help them? Share you thoughts in the comment box at the bottom of the page.