Obviously as mentioned in my earlier articles, some pain is a good thing.
Despite the fact that having a sore gluteus maximus can be a pain in the ass. (I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself).
Pain actually has a many uses, though the duration of pain is something I would like to address.
Getting a pain signal from breaking my leg, good. This lets you know you have done an amount of physical and structural damage. Having that same pain response for the next two weeks or so while lying in bed healing, not so good and gets on my nerves, literally.
The reason we feel pain in this situation is obviously to make sure you look after your injury and “baby” it a little, as to not cause more damage. You may also receive signals of pain from swelling, healing etc.
If you are an evolved being with any sort of cognitive reasoning (which, having found and read my fantastic blog you must be), you will learn this do not run and jump on your broken leg lesson pretty fast.
Therefore the remainder of the warning pain is not exactly necessary. This is where we work on another technique of pain relief, where you find ways of “wanting” the pain, which tends to lessen its affect.
This is an odd sounding concept which has it’s roots planted firmly in science, so pack a day bag and some sandwiches, because we are about to go on a scientific journey of learning… (Hopefully I’ve built this up enough).
This works on the system called ‘forward modelling’. Our brains motor system will make a prediction about the consequences of our physical actions and uses these predictions to inform our sensory systems whether a sensation is self produced or externally produced.
When you make a movement, your brain will make a duplicate copy of the actual motor command, predicting what it thinks the effect of your action will result in you feeling. This is called an ‘efference copy’.
When you have completed your action and if the actual feeling experienced is different from the ‘efference copy’, the remaining balance will be experienced as pain.
If you would like to learn more about this read Blackmore, Frith and Wolperts article on spatiotemporal prediction in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (1999).
Pain is a way to show us that some thing is wrong or out of balance.
Therefore if you can convince yourself that you “want” it to hurt, and in fact make small movements to cause small amounts of pain without damage, then it will lessen your actual experience of the pain. Incredible as it sounds, it is very true.
Next time, you find yourself with a stubbed toe, or knocking your shin on a coffee table, use these methods of ‘competitive inhibition’, cheating ‘forward modelling’ and good old-fashioned laughter.
First rub the site, second try to laugh at it, and third (probably hardest of all), find a way to convince yourself that you caused the pain for your own good and that you want it to hurt more. This may sound a little masochistic but hear me out…
By practicing these skills you will have tools to lessen pain’s vice-like grip and affect on you. Which is a talent in itself considering that pain is not “real”.
Will you use these newfound powers for good or evil?
Only time will tell….