Reframing Our Understanding of Pain with Charlie Merrill
One aspect of moving our bodies that I dare say 100% of people can relate to is negotiating the pitfalls of PAIN.
Experiencing pain in any form in our bodies, whether it’s acute or chronic, dull or sharp, expected or unexpected leads us into the territory of feeling disappointed by our bodies as they seemingly break down right under our nose. And well, let’s not beat around the bush here, the general consensus for most of us in this department is: pain means damage, and it's frustrating.
But... what if that assumption isn’t entirely correct?
Enter our guest for this episode: Charlie Merrill. As a licensed physical therapist and owner of Merrill Performance in Boulder, Colorado Charlie has devoted over 20 years of his life to developing a synthesized treatment of the mind and body to support people dealing with pain & injury in returning to a high level of performance, health, and vitality in their lives. Through his many years of study and experience, Charlie sees that pain and tissue damage do not always go hand in hand. In fact, having pain doesn't always mean there is something physically wrong.
His combination of traditional hands on manual therapy care with a novel mind-body approach enables him to treat a wide range of clients including some of the world’s best athletes. Outside of his clinic, Charlie is actively involved in clinical research, consults in health technology, and serves on the medical advisory board for "The Better Mind Center". And if that weren’t enough, Charlie co-created the course "Beyond Pain Education" with Dr Howard Schibiner, MD, and regularly creates content appearing on Podcasts, his channel on YouTube, and on social media to support people in pain.
Needless to say, I am honored to have been able to sit down with Charlie for this episode — he is a gem of a human with so much love for movement and the power it has to change our lives.
What we discuss
- The breakdown of what actually happens in our bodies when we experience pain
- Scientific evidence of why pain does not always mean tissue has been damaged in the body (and the surprising revelation that this evidence has been around for over 20 years)
- Acute vs chronic pain, and understanding what these different types of pain mean
- The strong correlation between pain & fear, and why this indicates that the brain is in charge of pain
- Using the bio-psycho-social sphere of our organism (hello mind-body connection!) to interpret the messages our pain is trying to alert us to
- Our brain can use physical pain to pull us out of feeling an intense emotion, especially when we don’t feel capable of being with some of our emotions
- All pain is real - but the key is to understand that our pain does not always mean tissue damage, and often is an important message being relayed through the pain-fear response that some aspect of our lives that needs attention (bio-psycho-social sphere)
- Acknowledging that we often find identity through movement, and allowing ourselves to see that how we move is intimately connected to how we see ourselves
- The importance of focusing movement as a vehicle for pleasure, joy, and play
- Tips to support us in changing our relationship to pain
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