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Awareness of pain. Friday June 7, 2013

In a recent post: I suggested pain signalled injury and was a good reason to stop running. Several people commented that some pain could be safely ignored and some pain was necessary for growth.

The critics are right, without a thoughtful definition of 'pain', the rule 'Pain equals stop' is simple enough to limit injury at the cost of limiting growth. The trick is awareness. Before deciding to push on or stop, you need to know what sort of pain you are in.

Many running authorities say STOP level pain is:

1) Persistent sharp or stabbing pain.
2) Pain that changes your gait.

Physical pain that changes your gait is probably the most relevant parallel to emotional pain that changes your mood. Combined with pain, gait changes are a sign of injury because your body will protect you by using uninjured muscles instead of injured ones.

The problem with ignoring this is that the uninjured muscles aren't built to take on this extra load. For example, ignoring hip pain tends to injure your knees.

Even if your mind won't acknowledge pain and injury, your injury can be seen in your gait. Often I'll make myself believe I am healthy, but my spouse will say "You are limping."

Be aware of yourself or accept the observations of trustworthy friends. You can distinguish between injury and growth. You can rationally decide what must be acknowledged and what can be ignored.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 11:12am

Oooh! I like this one. Thanks Rob.
I struggle with cancer related fatigue - like chronic fatigue but different. I am finding that being more precise about how I define my fatigue helps. Saying "I'm tired" - is not useful when I am always tired. Is it mental? physical? emotional? which particular combination of the three? Being clear about this helps me handle it... And yes there are "gait changes" that come with the different aspects - physical effects in my body when I'm super physically knackered - and more mood wise when it's mental and emotional... Handling my emotional and mental issues with the fatigue and my current level of disablity helps with the physical tiredness as well...
Listening to what my friends have to say - this is a good reminder. They are often more eagle eyed about me - having the perspective I lack, being so close to it.
The tricky one is distinguishing between fatigue = cancer growth and fatigue = recovery / response to cancer treatment. They feel remarkably alike.

Anonymous Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 12:38pm

Great comment!

Julia Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 1:40pm

This is Dan who wrote this not Rob?

Julia Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 6:34pm

Hi Dan
I actually liked your original post as it seemed to offer ways of coping with emotional pain or rather recognising it so that we stopped in our tracks, took a look at what was happening to us to cause the "pain" and took time out to recharge.
I like this one too but find it less easy to relate to emotional pain. However I know your intentions are good! You have tried to accommodate our comments from your first blog.

Anonymous Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 7:35pm

Hi Dan -
Awareness of happiness makes a difference too: The point here being that a daily check of what you've done to increase happiness helps to build it. Any way of adding this into the daily set?

Anonymous Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 9:31pm

Although I haven't yet read your first post I think I agree with Julia. It is a good analogy but its importance re emotional pain seems not fully developed and a bit confusing. But intriguing nevertheless! I happened to be thinking about this moments before I read it: feeling a bit overwhelmed with emotional pain, wondering what to do about it. Need to recharge, yes, and recognise and accept, but what else? Thanks

Caroline Ashcroft Fri, Jun 7th 2013 @ 10:38pm

Hi there, interesting article, thank you. We'll have a think about this one.

Dan MacNeil Sun, Jun 9th 2013 @ 3:23am

Yes, @Julia

It was Dan not Rob.

This was in the email message, so it looks like only a few commenters were slightly confused.

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