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Chapter 6: Put Out the Kindling: Address the Chemical Triggers

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Put Out the Kindling:

Address the Chemical Triggers

THESE CHEMICAL TRIGGERS ARE A LITTLE sneakier than the mechanical category of everyday pain triggers—less obvious, just like glowing embers disguised as white coals: They don’t necessarily look all that hot or dangerous, but they will easily ignite any nearby kindling in a heartbeat.

If your pain is not completely new, then it’s very likely that the initial steps of stopping, dropping and rolling (as was laid out at the beginning of this chapter), are not going to have a very dramatic effect on your situation. These are still steps you should take, because they will help to begin recalibrating the body’s sense of where it should physically be occupying space in order to be more comfortable, restoring a sense of “neutral.”

Although the relief from the stop, drop and roll technique is temporary, it’s an important set of actions needed not only to restore mechanical peace, but also to re-educate your neuroendocrine system (part of what controls body chemistry) about how to not be in

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Chapter 2: Mechanical Triggers

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Mechanical Triggers

TISSUES OF THE BODY CAN EXPERIENCE mechanical injury when structural integrity is threatened. Some examples of mechanical stress or mechanical triggers of inflammation include:

• Compression (compressive forces)

• Lengthening, i.e., any positioning of body parts at some distance from our individual center of gravity

(tensile force)

• Shearing forces that result from combining compression and tension

“The spine experiences and negotiates the compressive force of gravity all day long.”


Compressive forces can come from gravity or from a crushing type of injury

(Figure 2.1).


is a mechanical stress that can trigger pain. The spine experiences and negotiates the compressive force of gravity all day long. Gravity is a significant compressive force all on its own, but, combine that with a blow or a fall, and we have a reasonable mechanical trigger for pain.

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Chapter 1: Inflammation: Your Body on Fire

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Inflammation: Your Body on Fire

THE EASIEST ANSWER TO THE QUESTION of why it hurts is that pain is the result of inflammation. There are chemicals that build up in our tissues during an inflammatory response along with swelling, and it’s these chemicals that are responsible for causing pain and irritation. It’s really as plain as that. You might be thinking, “No, no, no, my pain is all about my tight muscles.” Well, guess what?

You won’t find the one (muscle pain and tightness) without some degree of the other

(inflammation). A tight muscle group can exist for quite some time without hurting.

The pain or sensation of a tight muscle is what we feel when inflammation overwhelms the region.

So, if inflammation is what really lies at the heart of all pain in one form or another,

“Pain is the result of inflammation”

what exactly is it? Simply put: inflammation is a sudden increase in blood flow.

Generally we consider increased blood flow to be a good thing. Blood does nourish all the tissues in the body by delivering nutrients and oxygen everywhere. Unfortunately, just a little more than usual of this good thing can make everything feel quite wrong. There are many different scenarios in which inflammation is at play in unexpected and subtle ways.

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Chapter 3: Chemical Triggers

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Chemical Triggers of Everyday Pain

INJURY OR STRESS OF A CHEMICAL nature occurs when an area is overwhelmed with cellular waste or byproducts. There is a normal constant flow of cellular waste as the result of our daily metabolic activity. Just as we eat, drink and go to the bathroom on a daily basis, our cells are doing the same thing on a microscopic level. A backup of these waste byproducts can happen during inflammation because of a mechanical tissue injury as previously mentioned, but waste products can also accumulate without any physical injury, at all. This build-up can happen if there is either: (1) Too much cellular waste being produced too quickly;4 or (2)

Elimination of cellular waste is somehow compromised or too slow. Both of these things can happen when the body’s critical biochemical and metabolic processes are being stressed (causing more waste or garbage to result and accumulate) and/or if the

4. Occasionally the body has more “trash” to break down and get rid of. Allergens, viruses, and toxins in the environment can add to the “trash” load in our system.

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Chapter 7: Fire Proof Body Mechanics

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Make Yourself Fire Proof!

(physically, chemically and emotionally)

AFTER THE PAIN FROM THE FIRE of inflammation subsides and you find yourself moving about more easily again, it will be very tempting to simply return to life as usual with a big sigh of relief. After all, you probably have a ton of things to catch up on after being laid up with your unexpected episode of this very disruptive, albeit everyday kind of pain. When being forced to take it easy because of this sort of thing, you can’t help but let some responsibilities slide while focusing on getting better. But before you return to autopilot, you should know that this is a crucial time. Right now is when the memory of your strain is still fresh, and yet you aren’t completely hindered by it anymore. This is the time when you need to explore some different ways to move forward, not just mechanically, but chemically and emotionally too. Do it before you lose the valuable feedback that the slight remaining pain can offer you.

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