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Why Do We Experience Pain?

I recently attended a conference and listened to Dr. Alexandra Carswell Engle, where she presented on pain management, and it made me think about my personal experiences in fitness both as an individual and as a coach at OPEX Fitness Regina.

At OPEX Regina I generally see clients come in looking to overcome an injury or pain, build self-confidence, have more energy day-to-day, and improve overall health.

Today I am going to talk about pain because I see more and more people coming in experiencing life aches and pains that make their day-to-day increasingly challenging.

What is Pain?

It is an uncomfortable feeling in your body that warns you something is wrong. While this feeling is the body's own internal warning system, pain can last for weeks, months, or longer.

There is a general concept that our bodies don’t do things randomly, that there are causes for everything, and what you are experiencing matters. A common thought around pain is it means there is an injury and this is often not the case.

We see a lot of advertising around ways to treat pain (Advil, Tylenol, gels, etc.) but what we should be discussing are the drivers of the pain (causes).

Reasons we may experience pain:

1. Inflammation:

· can be acute or chronic

· is often connected to diet and overall gut health

· will increase pain sensitivity

2. Infection:

· Autoimmune pain (eg: arthritis)

· Inflammation from infection

3. Nutrient deficiencies:

· Vitamin D deficiency

· Vitamin B deficiency: increases inflammation and decreases the ability to detoxify

· Magnesium: can cause tight muscle tissue and cause headaches

· Omega-3 fatty acids: a deficiency means that we have more inflammatory fatty acids in our diet and the cells are less fluid.

There is a lot going on when it comes to pain and remember that we all experience it differently. If you are experiencing pain, make sure you check with your doctor. If you are clear to start a new fitness regimen then you can work on the processes below.

How pain impacts us on a daily basis:

When we feel that a movement will cause us pain, what do we often do?

Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.

We avoid that movement as much as we can. BUT when a movement assessment is performed, we might see that there is no injury, just the perception that it will hurt and therefore be harmful.

When starting a new fitness regimen or at a new gym you should work through your pain with your coach in the following ways:

1) We want to find a way to desensitize the body to the perceived pain of the movement. This means working on the movement and only taking it to just before the pain starts then working slowly on progressing it;

2) Exposure to similar movements that do not cause pain or a flare-up;

3) If there is no next-day pain or flare-ups you should slowly progressing into more complex movements that challenge you but do not cause pain,

4) If there is a next day pain flare-up work on regressing the movements so the pain doesn’t persist.

The main takeaway today is that you should never stop moving; movement creates blood flow, which moves oxygen, hormones, and nutrients which helps us sleep better, recover, and stay healthy. Movement can be walking outside, swimming, riding a bike, lifting weights, or basically anything that raises our heart rate to get our blood moving.

Stay Healthy,

Steve Volke




Dr. Alexandra Carswell Engle is the owner of Regenerate Health Medical Center

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