If you are reading this post then it is highly likely you have pain. It is also very likely that you want to do something about it, right?
You want the pain to go but you want to see results quickly and you want recovery to last.
In this post, I will help you learn:
· How using a combination of short and long term relief options is best for pain management.
· Your bodies “weather” and “climate” and why this matters for recovery.
· Examples of short term vs long term relief options
· How to reconceptualise the role of your therapist and yourself in managing pain.
Let’s get started.
Climate vs weather
Note: Save yourself 2 minutes of reading if you already know the difference between the two and head to the next section below.
We have all heard about climate change. It is a very important issue that we face today. I am sure that even the most uninterested still understand the concern. The climate is changing.
What does this actually mean? It means that the average temperature of the planet is steadily increasing to reach a new baseline. It means that the typical summer in the UK is hotter today than it was 10 years ago and will be hotter in 10 years than it is today.
Even though we have global climate change, our climate in the UK is also very different to that in Australia. Our average temperature measured over the year is cooler.
So we can understand climate as the “default” for that area which stays stable but may change over longer periods of time.
How is this different to the weather?
Well, even with climate change- there are still cold days and hot days, right? There are still fluctuations day to day. At the time of writing this blog- we are in the summer but have just had a cold spell with some rain but are due a hot few days.
Your body is like the planet
Why am I talking about weather and climate when you are in pain? What’s the point in knowing this? Well, it turns out your body has its own climate and its own weather and this is important to understand for recovery from pain. Let me explain..
Whenever you are in pain (particularly when you have long-term pain) the climate of your body has changed. Your health and nervous system has shifted to a state of pain. You have a new baseline or “default”. You could visualise it as your body having a “hotter” climate.
When you have an issue causing pain- you will find that some times are better than others. So even though you are in a state of pain and sensitivity- there are still fluctuations- just like the weather! Sometimes the rain pours and it is miserable. Sometimes there is a break in the clouds and things seem better.
figure 1- the green line is a slow change of our baseline (climate), whilst the red line is the fluctuations over the shorter term (weather)
This is how your physiology works.
There is a baseline of health with fluctuations hour to hour or day to day.
Shifting from weather change to climate change
Here is a question for you! If you could only change the weather or the climate in your body when you have pain- what would you choose?
People often seek care which only make changes to the weather. They try things that only provide a temporary break in the clouds but the miserable weather (pain) returns again within a few hours or days.
When you do things that change the climate of your body- you feel better for longer. The pain doesn't return again within a day or two and you are not constantly in and out of pain.
The problem with this is that the climate within your body requires time to change. It takes time to see a steady change in the state of your body.
So what is the best approach? The best approach is to change the weather WHILST you're changing the climate.
How do you do this? First, we need to understand what things change the weather in your body and what things change the climate.
Weather changes (faster relief- shorter term results)
Hands on treatment
Avoiding painful activities
Climate changes (slower relief- longer term results)
Exercising in your “sweet spot”
Sleep and recovery
Healthy pain relationship
Changing your relationship to hands on care
One thing to note is the relationship you have to hands on care. I can safely say that the best I can offer as a therapist is a “weather” change.
It is very rare to completely change the climate of someone’s body with hands on care alone. Recovery usually requires time and proactive strategies like those mentioned above.
Any therapist worth their salt will know the limitations of hands on care only and will offer you enough advice and encouragement to work on those components that will help you to change your baseline (climate) and therefore lead to longer term resolution of pain.
You are like the planet! You have a climate in your body and a weather system. Using weather and climate change strategies together will give you quicker results but will also give you longer term and more sustainable change.
Thanks for reading.