Pain and the Feldenkrais Method Some Thoughts
One of the primary ways that Feldenkrais movement lessons are thought to operate to reduce pain, is the phenomenon known as sensory gating. Sensory gating means that the processing and perception of sense information is reduced by the presence of other competing sense information. If your nervous system is busy trying to process signals resulting from movement you are making or from the sensation of touch, it will have less ability to perceive and process pain signals and hence your pain will reduce.
Pain science is continually evolving. There have been some very important landmarks in pain research such as the research that led to the gate crontrol theory. The gate control theory of pain, proposed by Ron Melzack and Patrick Wall in 1962, is the idea that physical pain is not a direct result of activation of pain receptor neurons, but rather its perception is modulated by interaction between different neurons.
We now know that pain is not an input from the body but an output from the brain. What we erroneusly believe is that if you prick your skin with a pin it will hurt, so we assume that pain enters the body and goes up to the brain. It is not so, because though the pain will stop if you stop the input, most of the time, there are many times that it does not, and this is what chronic pain is. Pricking your finger with a pin will cause nociception (pain sensation) but the brain will decide how that signal is interpreted and how much importance is given to that signal at that particular instant.
What the brain receives are nociception signals and it decides how to interpret these and make them result in pain or not. Pain is the brain’s output after interpreting signals.
The longer pain is present, the easier it is to feel pain. In other words, the more the brain uses a certain neural pathway, the easier it becomes to use that same pathway. Neurons that fire together wire together. Emotional states like anger, depression and anxiety will reduce tolerance to pain. Your brain can relate your environment to pain.
If some signals get crossed then signals that do not originate from nociception nerve receptors get interpreted as pain and the output is pain for something that should not be experienced as pain.
Pain is an output of the brain, not an input from the body. In other words, pain perception is created by the brain! Pain is a survival mechanism with a purpose of protecting the body from harm and damage.
Pain is not an accurate measurement of the amount of tissue damage in an area. You may have extensive tissue damage and experience no pain and have very mild damage and experience a lot of pain. Pain does not equal tissue damage. Numerous studies report damage to the spine, discs and rotator cuff on MRI, but are pain-free! If you feel pain, your central nervous system is alerting you that your body is under threat.
If you are in pain, you are not always hurt. If you are hurt, you will not necessarily feel pain. An example of this is a chainsaw accident where you cut deeply into your leg but feel no pain, and only feels pain much later. This is generally the case with most accidents.
Nerves need three things; space, blood and movement. Speaking of movement, it is through using gentle small movements that the feldenkrais method works to increase mobility reduce effort and reduce the sensation of pain as a result of using more of yourself gently.