‘That hurts so good…’

‘Do your worst!’

‘If it means that I’ll feel better, I’ll deal with as much as pain as you dish out’

All very common statements that I get in my practice.

Lots of folks want painful bodywork when they come in complaining about tight/sore/tender spots.

They think what’s causing these spots are adhesions. They think it’s tight muscles.

They think it’ll take lots of force to undo and relieve their ailments.

I don’t have a problem dishing out the deep stuff but the relief isn’t so much that we’re dealing with things on a tissue level.

Lots of research, which isn’t actually recent, is attributing neurophysiological mechanisms for feeling relief. It’s been known for centuries now that if a client receives deep pressure on top of, or near a ‘trouble’ spot, the client recruits parts of the brain that modulate pain and releases our own drug cabinet.

This process is called ‘anti-nociception’ or DNIC (diffuse noxious inhibitory control).

Yes, we make our own painkillers! This is a more accurate explanation of how you feel better after treatment than thinking we’re working out anatomical bogeymen such as trigger points, fascial adhesions, tight muscles, etc. 

  1. Willer JC, Bouhassira D, Le Bars D. Neurophysiological bases of the counterirritation phenomenon: diffuse control inhibitors induced by nociceptive stimulation, Neurophysiol Clin, 1999, vol. 29 (pg.379-400)
  2.  Sprenger C, Bingel U, Buchel C. Treating pain with pain: supraspinal mechanisms of endogenous analgesia elicited by heterotopic noxious conditioning stimulation, Pain, 2011, vol. 152(pg.428-39)


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