Movement, Kinesthetic Awareness, and Pain

This blog post is related to my previous posts: "Chronic pain: The Vicious Cycle" and "Kinesthetic Awareness: Road Map for Movement."  In this post, I will talk about relationships between movement, kinesthetic awareness, and pain.

I discussed how movement clarifies "body maps" and kinesthetic awareness, and lack of movement has the opposite effect.  Pain usually discourages people to move.  When people experience pain chronically, they start to avoid movement, called fear avoidance of movement. Decreased movement due to pain will then decrease kinesthetic awareness.  Research shows that decreased kinesthetic awareness is correlated with increased pain as decreased kinesthetic can be perceived as a threat by the nervous system.  My own understanding is that moving with poor kinesthetic awareness is like walking in a dark room (maybe a hotel room that I stay for the first time) without a flashlight.  I would feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and anxious.  All these feelings can be perceived as a threat.  As I discussed in the previous blog (Chronic pain), the brain produces pain when it perceives a thread to the system.  It does make sense why decreased kinesthetic awareness is corrected with increased pain.  Then, increased pain further discourages movement, and so forth.  

To break this cycle, here's what needs to happen:  

- Understand pain

- Move with attention (attention is a key to improving kinesthetic awareness)

- Gradually increase movement to desensitize the nervous system and increase tissue tolerance

Sounds simple enough?  Please keep in mind that  it takes time for the nervous system to rewire itself, but the nervous system DOES CHANGE!