I have written another previous blog about one of my lovely, smart, compassionate pelvic health physios – Jane Cannan – who got herself a gig on the #painrevolutionride around Tasmania with Lorimer Moseley and David Butler this coming March, 2019. I am so pleased for Jane because this is a highly sought-after ride to spread the word through regional Australia about how best to manage persistant pain. It’s a hard ride and is especially amazing because Jane is certainly the athlete – but a runner not a cyclist. But she is showing that she has hidden talents as a cyclist because she is ‘killing’ the training. She slips into work each week looking like SHE is doing LitenEasy (not me) and looking stronger and fitter every day. She has written this blog and kindly allowed me to post it as well. I love it because she reminds us about the training required to teach the brain how to not go into the usual fear-driven response when pain is felt with a movement and also how innately strong and resilient the spine and our bodies really are.
Jane’s blog follows:
I recently read a quote by Wayne Gretzky that said “you miss100% of the shots you don’t take”. I’m reminded of it this morning after coming home from another ride in preparation for the Pain Revolution Rural Outreach Tour which is only just over 7 weeks away. Since applying for this Tasmanian adventure in September 2018 I have ridden over 4150km to prepare for the 8 day, 700km ride from Devonport to Hobart.
Hello, I said 4150km, in 4 months!! This is NOT normal behaviour for me. I absolutely loved this morning’s session because it was hard – it asked me to give more than I knew I had and 10 hours beforehand I was horribly afraid of showing up for it and needed a friend’s encouragement to be brave. More than the physical gains I’ve made, the most meaningful change has been in how I cope with fear; an achievement that I have learnt doesn’t happen through hope or good intention alone, and coincidentally, neither does recovering from persistent pain.
One of the goals of the Pain Revolution is to prepare people to rethink what their pain means and in doing so give them the opportunity to try and take the shot. The shot they have probably taken unsuccessfully for quite some time. That activity or movement that has caused them an increase in pain and reinforced the belief that they are fragile, broken, limited and should never expect to be free. This feeling is crushing to a person’s sense of self and is responsible for killing many a joy.
Wayne Gretzky was an ice hockey player and coach, but I watched a game once and couldn’t understand it, so I’m sure he won’t mind if I think about his quote in terms of basketball instead.
Picture a basketballer about to take a shot that will determine whether his team wins or loses a game. Now we know he has no choice but to take the shot, it’s very unlikely that he will shake his head, plant the ball on the ground and walk off the court. What does he do to give himself the best chance of success? He calms his breathing, relaxes his shoulders, softens his grip on the ball, quietens himself and blocks out the environmental noise. The same applies when moving differently for the first time in a long time.
If bending to pick up something off the floor has resulted in pain over and over again, it makes sense that in preparation for the task a person may hold their breath, tense their shoulders, over-tighten every one of their abdominal and back muscles and grit their teeth, possibly without even realising it. You could take a person with no back pain history, teach them to move this way and have a pretty good chance of making the activity hurt or at least feel dreadfully uncomfortable. This is pain science in practise. We are choosing to use intelligent internal cues that come from accurate knowledge to manipulate physical performance. You could use it for good, or to increase someone’s chances of failure. I choose for good.
Whether it’s in preparing for high stakes sporting moments or turning up for a training session or performing that movement that gives you grief, I urge you to stop, check in with your body and see if you can manufacture the state that will increase your chance of making the shot.
If you want to know more, or to follow the Tassie ride check out the website https://www.painrevolution.org/ and facebook page. A little more about me and my pain story can be found in the link to my fundraising page below. All donations are most gratefully received.
Thanks Jane and I hope many of my readers will take on board your wise words about fear and pain, about the amazing ability of breathing and relaxing to change pain intensity and to develop the body’s inbuilt belief system to adapt to this new and evidence-based knowledge that your body is innately strong and robust not weak and fragile.
Jane needs to raise a certain amount of money towards pain research as part of the #painrevolutionride so if you feel inclined give a few dollars towards this worthy cause she would be very grateful. All monies raised goes to pain research.
Great work Jane xx