Understanding the pain threshold

Have you ever been told “if that activity hurts, simply don’t do it”? How did it make you feel? Did you feel dismissed, annoyed, and frustrated?

The phrase “if it hurts, then don’t do it” may sound overly simplistic but it is extremely helpful when it comes to recovering from sciatica pain or any other injury.

Imagine that your healing injury, whether it be a nerve, bone, muscle or ligament injury. Upon initial incident, there will be a period of inflammation, stiffness, and pain. This is a protective mechanism to ensure that the specific tissue doesn’t get injured and has an opportunity to heal. That is at a local level specific to that area of injury. If we look at what is happening in the head/brain, the brain is now in protective mode, which means that your brain will process pain and tell you that specific activities are painful because it may cause more harm to the area.

This will take about 6-8 weeks to fully heal (more or less depending on the severity of injury). During this time, it is increasingly important to minimize the painful tasks and improve pain free movement. Remember, motion is lotion.

What if we move out of that window and we are still in pain? There may be something that could still be irritating that area of injury, such as a movement/exercise/behavior. At this time, not only will the injured tissue be mostly healed, but when you are still experiencing pain, that means that the brain does not feel safe and is still in protective mode.

When you experience an injury, your body creates a protective scab at the site of injury. There is a level of stress and movement that the body can tolerate when injured before pain is experienced. We call this the movement threshold.

This movement threshold is not just at the injured area; but also in our brains. Remember, pain is an experience processed in our brains. And when we do activities that produce or make our pain worse, we hit that threshold, and we experience more pain. This leads to lowering our threshold, meaning that it takes less stress for us to feel something. This also prolongs the healing process because are constantly picking at that scab. 

Remember as a kid being told that you shouldn’t pick your scabs? There is a lot of validity to this statement.

So your action step today is take a step back and see what activities cause your pain to get worse. From there, ask yourself “how can you avoid this” or “how can you modify this” to ensure that you are not adding any more stress to your body or brain.

Do you need help trying to figure this out? Book a free call with us here.

If you want to get started right away on a program that is truly effective? Check out our Sciatica Protocol here.


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