Why do we get pain without apparent cause?

The body deals with physical pain.

We see its awesome capacity every weekend. When AFL guys take a big mark and drop on their backs from ten feet in the air, make no mistake, it hurts, but the body disperses the impact of the fall around the entire connective tissue system. They get up after getting their breath back, without a bruise and kick a goal. Amazing. They have a reason for pain (a big fall) but have none (unless they miss the goal!).

If I stand next to the fire, my body picks up and distributes the heat. I start to feel warmed. If I am too close, the amount of heat arriving is more than the body can distribute - it warns me 'this is getting hot'. If I continue to ignore the warning, the body says 'hey stupid, move' with the strongest signal it can send - PAIN. The pain is a signal telling me to act to protect myself and I usually do or get burned.

The body deals with emotional pain.

Emotions are also a call to action. The emotional part of the brain is the most primitive or lizard brain. It was developed to help us survive. Emotions tell the body to get out of here, to shout, to cry or strike out, protect yourself. These are the fight or flight responses. You will have felt the energy arriving at the tissues - balling the fists in anger, hackles rising, rapid intake of breath, shouting at the driver who has just cut you off. It is instantaneous and subconscious.

When we feel a cause to act but then it is suppressed by the logical brain, ie you hold yourself back, the body must disperse the energy that was sent in that first instant, into the surrounding tissues.

When we recall a painful event; being overlooked for promotion; loss of a love; the guilt/shame/sadness...  the primitive brain, not knowing the difference between a real crisis and a remembered one, sends the signal again: protect yourself. The energy must again be absorbed by the tissues while the front brain goes 'I should have done this... seen it coming... We reach the point, like standing in front of the fire, at which the body can’t absorb any more of the energy of the emotion. We get pain without an obvious physical cause. The feelings are literally ‘embodied’. Our language reflects this - he’s a pain in the neck, he’s broken hearted, she’s all bitter and twisted, I wish you would all get off my back, I just can’t let go, shoulder the burden, biting back the words, swallowing her pride ...

If you have pain that doesn’t go away or respond to conventional treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is ‘something wrong’ with the body part. It may be that the body warning you that there is something in your life (present or past) that is hurting you.

Bodywork and Postural Integration are good for helping to release the emotional energy that has been stored in the tissues. If you wish to chat about it feel free to call and ask any questions you have.

by Ross Housham • Ross is a practitioner of Postural Integration – a method of bringing the body and mind back into balance by addressing feelings that drive behaviour.

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