How to Handle The Hell That Has No Pain
Life with no pain can be dangerous for runners. Sometimes runners have to know how to handle the hell that has no pain or risk ruining their body.
The reason I wanted to frame it this way is because so many runners assume that if they don’t feel pain they can push their bodies to the limit. This is a misconception that can quickly put an end to their running.
Now that you know where I’m going, let me share with you the story of a group of people who are born with a mutant gene that renders them immune from pain. They are born with congenital insensitivity to pain, and what you as a runner can learn from them.
Imagine not being able to feel a bone break—-until you wind up in a wheel chair.
It is. And this is how it happens.
You are born with a condition known as congenital insensitivity to pain. (1) It’s not that you are indifferent to pain it’s that you can’t experience pain at all.
Now remember that pain is a reaction that tells the body that something is wrong with it. This allows you to exhibit the reflex so you can recoil from that boiling liquid that might peel your skin off your bones or stop you from chewing your own tongue.
For an interesting discussion on this topic, take a look at the above video in which Katie Couric has a very informative interview.
To further understand the consequences of having an insensitivity to pain, let’s talk about painless Pete.
The Story of Painless Pete-and His Congenital Insensitivity to Pain
He tells his story in an article by (3) Hayasaki Erika.
Pete pauses for a moment and recalls a white washington day a few years ago. “We had thick snow, and we went inner-tubing down a hill. Well, I did a scorpion, where you take a running start and jump on the tube. You’re supposed to land on your stomach, but I hit it at the wrong angle. I face-planted on the hill, and my back legs just went straight up over my head.” Pete got up and returned to tubing, and for the next eight months he went on as usual, until he started noticing the movement in his left arm and shoulder felt off. His back felt funny too. He ended up getting an MRI. “The doctor looked at my mri results, and he was like, ‘Have you been in a car accident? About six months ago? Were you skydiving?’ ”
“I haven’t done either,” Pete replied.
The doctor stared at his patient in disbelief. “You’ve got three fractured vertebrae.” Pete had broken his back.—The End of Pain
The End of Pain Doesn’t Mean Lack of Discomfort
So that means if someone suffering from pain insensitivity hit themselves with a hammer, they won’t feel the pain but still feel the pressure.
This is another way of saying they will still feel the discomfort.
So, keep this in mind: one may feel no pain but still has the discomfort.
Runner’s Ignoring Pain
Though not as extreme, you should began to understand that pain can be a warning that a certain action will jeopardize a runner’s health. let’s examine the circumstance in which a runner’s situation almost mimics that of someone suffering from pain insensitivity.
The End of Pain
in his book,(4) Running Injury Free, Joe Ellis, a doctor and advisor to Runner’s World, tells of how a patient of his had a three- month -old pelvic fracture that she was not aware off.
How Could This Happen, You May be Wondering?
Well, the patient Deb, was a training for the marathon. In addition to running she also did extra workouts. The result was that her groin area became so sore that she could hardly walk.
‘’anyone watching her walking across campus might think she needed crutches. she shuffled and limped, moaned and groaned. she had a hard time even getting up after sitting”. (4)
Here’s the interesting part. Deb’s pains, according to Ellis, would go away when she got into her run.
Can you guess where I’m going? Think about it. Because she was running pain free, she figured she was okay.
She figured her sore muscles were just a discomfort and continued running the marathon.
The end result was that she had to stop running for 4 months and experienced pain from the groin area for a year.
Now you know the importance of not ignoring pain. That sore calf muscle that seems minor one day will develop into an achilles tendon tear if you continue pushing your self with more workout.
It wouldn’t be correct to say you should see your pain as a blessing. God knows I have seen too many tears from those I care about carry on in daily pain.
However, every once in a while fate has a way of reminding us that there are those who suffer in worse ways. Yes, drinking something so hot it burns your tongue is no fun. But at least you can stop before lasting damage is done.
But what about not feeling the pain and not realizing that you are burning your esophagus. Yet having to live with the result. Can you imagine how terrible that must be?
So be grateful that you have a warning system that tells you to avoid danger and injury. Pay attention to what your pain is telling You. Also, one last hint. Do not ice immediately before training. It has, as Joe Ellis points out,” an anesthetizing effect and will block the pain response that gives you a warning signal of an injury”. Running Injury-Free: How to Prevent Treat and Recover From Dozens of Painful Problems.
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(1) Natural History Magazine “Hitting a nerve: pain and emotion are intertwined” 123.1 (Feb. 2015): p34.
(2).Uwire Text. “Health Talk: Congenital insensitivity to pain (Mar. 1, 2016): p1.
(3) Wired “The End of Pain” 25.5 (May 2017): p84.
(4) Joe Ellis. (1994) Running Injury-Free: How To Prevent Treat and Recover From Dozens of Painful Problems