The pain stories we tell

In 2012 I did, what I’d now call, a stupid, ego-fueled workout. In the middle of it, I felt a twinge in my low back, freaked the shit out and went home. The following day I woke up with nagging back pain.

That morning I had this heavy sinking feeling of “nothing will ever be the same.” As if I’d just been told that I’d been randomly chosen to sit in a live electric chair that afternoon. Looking back at it now with the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years, it was a proper overreaction if there ever was one. But I didn’t know any better.

The first physiotherapist I saw couldn’t help me (understandably because all my back needed was time to heal). So after a few appointments, he sent me for a scan with an urgency as if I was about to give birth to an asteroid.

According to the scan, I had three or four (I forget) disc bulges in my low back. Reading that felt like I had now been chosen to sit in two live electric chairs simultaneously. While being forced to parent a growing asteroid.

Those experiences and the years that followed all contributed to the back pain story I was telling myself. Unrepairable, broken and forever doomed.

I stopped training for a while. I tried Pilates, stretching, movement work, core strength, eastern medicine… If it was at least borderline legal, I probably tried it.

Then, in 2018 I saw a chiropractor. Not because he was a chiropractor but because he was the only clinician within a 25km radius with the strength training qualifications I was looking for. I was done being poked on the table.

He was the first person to say that there was nothing wrong with my back. Unlike others, he didn’t tell me to stop doing anything.

That interaction and the other two that followed changed the back pain story I was telling myself. My back was resilient and strong. It wasn’t broken. I started feeling better. I was more confident doing exercises and movements I had been scared of for years because he helped me to change my pain story.

Here’s where it’s at.

The stories we tell about our pain and injuries affect our pain. The circumstances around the time of our injury can leave long-lasting, debilitating mental scars. We must consciously work to change the stories we tell ourselves about our pain and ourselves.

Anyways. Matt works in Sydney, hit him up. It sounds like hyperbole, but he changed my life. And I’ve referred countless Sydney-based clients his way ever since.

-J