Rethinking Pain

Let’s start with a story.

There once was a cave man’s body that did all the things it was designed to; chasing and catching and procreating just fine, until one day the cave man’s left knee got twisted badly as he sprinted barefoot after the gazelle.  The brain and body, realising the knee is badly damaged and unable to sprint sustainably after the gazelle, notified caveman via the signal of pain, which stopped him in his tracks.

Without this message of pain, he would have kept running until his knee was completely destroyed, subsequently destroying his ability to catch prey.  While letting the gazelle get away this time is not ideal, the body made the intelligent decision that saving the knee is more important.  Temporary hunger does not over-ride the possibility of dying of hunger if cave man cannot chase gazelle ever again.

Our bodies are not designed to be in pain.

Pain has no benefit to our ability to catch food, procreate or get on with any of the activities we needed to do to survive as a species.

When we have a back spasm, or an angry knee, our brain is trying to tell us something.   Our brain is telling us that something is wrong; that if we try to chase that wallaby for dinner, we may actually do ourselves real harm.

Our body reserves sending a pain message for as long as it can.

By this we mean, our body will try everything in it’s power to keep us moving, to keep us surviving as a species.   If you’re experiencing pain, the likelihood is the issue started long, long, long before you actually experienced discomfort.

Understanding your Body

Your body is not trying to let you down.  It is not out to get you.  Your body is your best friend trying to grab some attention.

Rather than think about the onset of pain as the start of an injury, think of it as arriving at the end of a very long line of compensations and compromises.  We are never aware just how much our body has changed to accomodate our lifestyles.  This is because the body is so incredibly intelligent, adaptable and kind that it deliberately hid issue from you.

Your body just wants you to be able to hunt and procreate. It will do everything in its power to keep you focused on lunch, rather than pain.

Re-building your relationship

If we have spent time thinking negative thoughts about our body, we need to unwind them.  They are counterproductive and give us a ‘cop-out’ mentality,  It is important we start cultivating some self love.

‘I hate my knee, I wish it would stop holding me up constantly!’

Needs to become

 ‘poor old knee, I’ve put aside a whole hour for us to work together on the weekend’.


Or, put more eloquently…




The Reality of day to day

While we may no longer need to catch gazelle to survive, we still need to catch a pay-check… normally by doing something our bodies were never designed to do.

The truth is that we have a great many postural challenges in our lives. As our posture deteriorates and we over use certain joints, our body tries to keep up and adapt and heal as quickly as possible.  If we get weak in one leg, the other leg gets stronger.  If our hips get too tight from sitting, we can walk with our feet turned outwards (at the expense of our knees).

The arrival of pain on the scene is a sign that the body has exhausted its ability to compensate. It has used up all avenues of ‘credit’ and is now looking at a very stark situation.  The body doesn’t want to cause you pain (it wants you to be focused on getting the food/paycheck), but it may need to in order to force you to address the issue at hand.

In this day and age we expect to live as long as possible. We have almost no challenge to our personal survival day to day and we can live 4 times as old as we did even 500 years ago.  It is our job therefore to evolve out of the cave man approach to pain (to only deal with things once pain and injury have set in).

The problem is we don’t have a good foundational understanding of our bodies.   We don’t get taught anything particuarly useful in terms of picking up on issues before they are sore.

.Why we learn about the life cycle of the butterfly and not about the alignment of our own hips is beyond me.