How to change your brain– increasing stamina and decreasing pain.
Nocioplastic pain (Central Sensitization Syndrome) It is not all in your head, but it is.
The old saying of pain being “all in your head” holds truth for all pain but it is not imagined. The signals for pain originate in the brain. Which kind of pain is the question, not “is it real?” Of course it is real. Never think I do not believe you are feeling pain. Why are you feeling pain though? There are three kinds of pain signals. Pain from something that is damaged, pain from nerves that are damaged and pain from a confused signaling system.
Clearly your brain communicates pain to your body. Sometimes it has a reason, but sometimes it is just confused. We think that the pain channel gets tied in with the anxiety alarm in the brain. Regardless of what is happening, the signal does not mean it is dangerous to move even though that is how we feel. The good news is that the body is able to change that message. Participating in certain activities can tell the brain we are not in danger, not harming ourselves or not needing to protect ourselves.
How do we create the message that we have no reason to experience pain or fatigue? By acting as if we are not in pain. The trick is to do it gently. Be active in a very progressive gentle way. Build up slowly. Act like an elite athlete but lower the goals. This is training just like an athlete trains.
How do we train? 1. Take note of current functioning levels, 2. Set goals for the next 3 mos, 3. Support your efforts with diet and healthy changes in behaviors, 4. Keep track of progress, 5. Join a group or find a coach, 6 increase goals slowly.
If we listen to pain without a critical view, we will avoid doing anything that triggers pain, but if the pain signal is confused, then it will not go away until we address the confusion. Reverse this by noticing pain, asking if it is from an identifiable source (broken toe) and if not, then move gently but progressively despite the pain.
Now, if we overdo it (which we all do on the good days) then we end up reinforcing the message that –exercise—behavioral changes– whatever are dangerous and we should play it safe. Back off and start again after a day of recovery. Moderate movement, moderate diet changes moderate changes in medication and chemicals (coffee for me) are the way toward recovery.