If you’re familiar with Dr. Sarno and back pain treatments that he offered, you’ll have an idea of where this is going. He treated TMS Pain (Tension Myoneural Syndrome) by going straight to the source: the mind. Read more about this at TMS Wiki.
Professional athletes have what seems to be a mysterious ability to ignore pain—or at least perform near optimally while experiencing pain. While little is known about the inside secrets of the psychology and coaching involved in emotionally overcoming pain, we do know that pain is a warning sensation. It’s designed to protect us from harm.
When the brain detects tissue damage or the potential for future tissue damage, it sends a pain response to the threatened area. Sometimes that signal is so strong that the pain is unbearable and crippling. Anyone who has thrown out their back or neck knows how insane the pain can be. Sometimes it lingers, and for no reason.
The sports medicine doctors tell us that nothing is really wrong mechanically. They advise that we probably need to focus on some particular exercises to improve the situation and eliminate the pain. The problem is somehow not truly physical and can be worked out on our own.
In other instances, an MRI will reveal a slipped disk or herniated vertebrae of the spine. This can cause intense pain, but implies that exercise and sports activities are too be avoided rather than embraced. If the problem is physical, so is the solution.
The difference in these two types of pain are that one seems to have an explainable physical cause, the other doesn’t really. In sports, athletes seem to be able to work around either. Why is that?
They are emotionally overcoming pain, but it can’t simply be by being tough. We have all certainly tried to tough it out through pain, but often that makes the symptoms worse, not better.
There’s something emotional going on with pain. All types of pain. And in some cases, it’s mind over matter, which is shown by so many athletes. The seed that remains elusive to most of is the how, not the what.