Pain is a language

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Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. Pain may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant. You may feel pain in one area of your body, such as your back, abdomen or chest or you may feel pain all over, such as when your muscles ache from the flu. Pain is part of the body’s defense system, producing a reflexive retraction from the painful stimulus, and tendencies to protect the affected body part while it heals, and avoid that harmful situation in the future. It is an important part of animal life, vital to healthy survival. Without pain, you might seriously hurt yourself without knowing it, or you might not realize you have a medical problem that needs treatment. Once you take care of the problem, pain usually goes away.

There is no such thing as one kind of pain. Pain is not something that either is there or it isn’t. Pain is a language, a full spectrum of physiological information, full of nuances and details. When we resist pain and don’t try to “listen” to it, we miss the many layers and insights being expressed. Pain is one of the voices of your body. Pain defines the current limits and edges of strain and injury. Some painful sensations tell us to stop, while some others are saying that muscles are being worked in ways they weren’t used to, and that is great, so proceed carefully.

The body has many levels of awareness and self-consciousness. Sharp pain usually means the brain is trying to protect some injured part of the body to prevent further damage. Att the same time, dull or gradual pain usually means a part of the body has been exercised and will grow and develop, but in our “pain-free culture” we tend to avoid that good kind of pain as well. It is only when you learn to embrace the pain and appreciate it for what it really means you will grow and improve.

During the last century or so we seem to have confused comfort with happiness, while quite the opposite is true. Running teaches you that there is a difference between being tired after working hard and feeling lousy. Product marketing and advertising all talk about “making it easier” or more convenient. A life driven by consumption is dull, predictable, and boring. Challenging you body to the point of exhaustion makes it more aware and heighten the senses. Everything becomes more alive and more intense.