3 People Most Likely To Overdo It

If you’re one of the people most likely overdo it then ironically you’re the same person who finds it the hardest to apply possible solutions.

1. You like to get things done

You can hear yourself saying:

If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well” and

Don’t start something you don’t mean to finish?”

2. You’re competitive

Oh yes! If you push yourself to achieve from an internal sense of competition, or to show others you can still cut it, you are likely to overdo madly.

I won’t let it beat me” is a common quote from your sort of personality.

3. “My back’s damaged and fragile”

Now this thought is going to lead to problems. You think there’s something very wrong with your back and that you have to look after it carefully. If you’re damaging yourself by an activity, it’s surely right to stop doing it.

These three “character types” or reactions to a pain problem deal with it in different ways, each of which can be negative for the future.

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The Over-Activity Cycle

This is a common habit we all share at one time or another.

We push ourselves to complete:

  • The window cleaning
  • Digging the vegetable plot
  • Painting the house
  • Shopping
  • Housework
  • A long drive

There are many other examples. I’m sure you can come up with some which are special to you.

A few days of pain or strain may be the only consequences of overdoing a particular activity. However, if an activity is overdone often enough it can lead to a longer lasting problem as the pain comes on sooner and sooner in the job.

The pain still goes away though. At least at first.

Then comes the time when you have to do the same job again and the pain stops you completing it but this time it doesn’t go away. It settles to some degree but remains at a low level. If you try the job again at any time the pain increases so fast that you have to stop pretty quickly.

You have now got an overuse injury which will limit your future ability to do the job in question and perhaps some related activities. It is very difficult to fix this kind of problem once the pain has set in.

Pacing for Chronic Pain Management

My interest in pacing for chronic pain management came from meeting a marathon man with a problem.

I can’t run for more than 15 minutes before my back becomes so painful I have to stop” he said.

That’s what the fit, somewhat unhappy 54 year old man was telling me was his problem. He had always been a runner since he was a young man and had competed in several marathons. He still ran twenty miles in one session at least once a week.

At least he used to.

He’d developed gradually increasing back pain about three months previously, and this had started to cut into his running and become a nuisance. Every time he went out running he felt fine until he got to 15 minutes, then BANG, his back pain worsened significantly, forcing him to stop.

He’d been repeating this unrewarding pattern regularly for the last month and had got nowhere. His back was just as bad and his running had not improved. He was getting fed up with the restrictions and had started to ask himself questions such as whether he should give up running.

Now, I was a physiotherapist of 22 years experience and was used to looking for technical reasons for a person’s pain and doing technical manoeuvres to them.

Except I didn’t.

I explained the reasons why he was having his pain and how his behaviour was maintaining the problem. I suggested he changed his running technique to take account of pacing to control his pain.

It worked. Three months later he came back to report on this progress. He had taken a month to get back to twenty mile runs but he had done it. Then he fell down a bank in a garden at night at a party! This made his back worse, but he had moved up to twenty miles again over the next four weeks.

So he had done it twice in three months!

To be honest it wasn’t just this man that started my interest in pacing for chronic pain management. But it was his very clear story that made me think about writing something for everyone with pain problems. I was sure the principles would apply to many people and in many different situations. I felt that this knowledge could be useful.

I’ll be covering pacing in much more detail in future.