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Pain is our bodies amazing mechanism to tell us when we may be in danger and need to change what we are doing or move away. If you accidentally touch a hot surface – ‘OUCH’ and you quickly move your hand away! When you have an injury, your body needs some rest so it may hurt to move in a certain way to remind you to give your body a break.
What also happens when we detect “danger”, is we go into ‘fight or flight.” Our incredible body releases hormones, such as cortisol that prepare us to either fight or flee danger in order to survive. These hormones also happen to make our nervous systems more alert. Have you ever been in situation when your life was at risk and it seemed like your world slowed down? But at the same time, your heart was beating faster and your whole body felt alive and ready to quickly take action?
However amazing all of this is, it can all go wrong. Our lives can be stressful and we release these same hormones in response to general life stress as well actual imminent danger. So then not only do we have these hormones flowing through our veins when there is a danger we need to avoid, but sometimes throughout our day to day lives.
The impact of this is that some sensations that our brain would normally register as discomfort or even a pleasant sensation, can be registered as THAT HURTS, I’M IN DANGER and I HAVE TO STOP WHAT I AM DOING OR GET OUT OF HERE.
So confusing right? So how do you know what kind of pain you have?
Pain that is telling you to find a way to survive OR “pain” that your brain is telling you is dangerous, but actually it is not.
Your body actually needs a little bit of stress in order to recover from injury or illness. If we never put our body under pressure, we would never get stronger or develop resilience. A perfect example of this is when astronauts first spent time in space with no gravity. When they returned to planet Earth, it was found they had symptoms of osteoporosis or weaker bones and their muscles had got smaller as well. The actually found it so much harder to simply stand up against the force of gravity. So you see? We need a healthy amount of stress on our bodies in order for them to both function well and also to build strength and resilience.
Still unsure? Speak to a health professional such as a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist to guide you along your way.
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