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I’m Brent – a Vancouver based physiotherapist.

Why Things Hurt is a site I’ve created to share my articles and videos. They’ll help you understand your aches and pains, and give you concrete and simple strategies to help!

  • GETTING STARTED
    An Instructional manual to let you navigate WTH and your body

 

  • TREATMENT TECHNIQUES
    Powerful options that you likely haven’t tried

 

  • MOVEMENT SCHOOL
    An email guided program to improve your posture

 


How Cannabis Can Help with Your Pain, Stress & Anxiety

I have been wanting to write an article about cannabis for a while now but didn’t know exactly how I wanted to present my opinion on the topic.  I am a physiotherapist in Vancouver, Canada, a place that has long embraced the use of cannabis, but up until recently it carried the stigma of technically being illegal.  I say technically because we have had weed shops on every other corner for years in this city that law enforcement had chosen to let function in a grey area due to public opinion.  On October 17, 2018 the federal government of Canada officially made marijuana legal and countless companies have been jockeying for position at all levels of the industry. As a physiotherapist, that works with many people with resistant and chronic pain problems, I have definitely noticed an increase in people’s openness to talking about their use of cannabis or their new interest in trying it as an option for their pain.  Healthcare professionals have always had to walk a fine line in their discussions about marijuana with patients both due to legal implications and the lack of strong research on the topic.  My goal with this article is to help decrease the residual stigma of cannabis by talking about its effects on pain, stress and anxiety from my perspective and to introduce a leading physician in the cannabis space named Dr Caroline MacCallum . Pain can simply overwhelm people. It can be sharp and acute or dull, aching and chronic.  It is not a tangible, physical thing, but more of a perception, or an experience.  It is hard to explain this concept to someone in pain and not have them think that you are calling them crazy and suggesting that it is ‘all in their head.’  We are programmed to ...
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The Many Faces of Anxiety: accepting the roles of both reality and perception

Anxiety is a very powerful driving force seeded in your subconscious that helps create the filter that you see the world through.  Everyone has a certain level of anxiety, but it tends to manifest in different ways in relation to different people and different circumstances.  It is the mental construct that tends to guide the rules that you progressively make for yourself throughout life in order to calm your own worries.  Everyone is going to have a different set of worries based partly on their childhood experiences, their genetics, their history of trauma and their current living situation. Worry can creep into all facets of your life whether you realize it or not.  It is an uncomfortable feeling that you will try to avoid if you can, but that process can very easily become a viscous cycle leading to more stress and discomfort for you and those around you.  I have found that the more anxious a person is, the more rigid their rules become for themselves and by extension, for those around them.  Creating rules, verbalized or not, is a means for a person to control their environment in order to calm their own worry and/or prevent the uncomfortable feeling of anxiety.  Perceived lack of control in any situation is a source of stress for many people and can create both mental and physical tension in a person’s body. There is a difference between reality and perception, they are both important, but accepting that they are different is both challenging and vital for overly anxious people.  By reality I mean the objective truth in any given situation and by perception I mean one person’s subjective interpretation of that situation.  Everyone develops their own triggers and filters that will impact how they perceive a certain event or discussion; some ...
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How Your Body Actually Works: Explained Like You’re 65

Reality is that you are now armed with the wisdom of time, but equipped with an actively degenerating body. You likely now have the time to pay attention to your body, but may have less to work with than you had hoped. Your joints are probably stiffer, your spine has shrunk half an inch and your toes look like a bunch of mashed up, gnarly tree roots. Getting Old Sucks was the title of section one in my book for a reason: our bodies progressively require more and more maintenance over time just to keep them feeling okay. After sixty-five years of abusing your body, you may have resigned yourself to the idea that you can’t change now and that your aches and pains are simply a product of your age. I hope that the next few paragraphs will change your mind. Thirty years is a long time. If you are sixty-five now, there is a reasonable chance that you will live for three more full decades with a body that is continuing to breakdown over time. Think about how much you have done since you were thirty-five, now visualize what you see yourself doing until you are ninety-five. I promise you that you will enjoy your third lap around more if don’t blame things on your age and instead work at improving things that you didn’t have time for in your second lap. You may not be able to go back and fix your gnarly toes or your rounded shoulders, but you can prevent them from getting worse and likely improve them more than you had ever thought possible. Your enjoyment in life for the next thirty years will most likely be closely correlated with your physical strength, mobility and balance in a way you have not experienced ...
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How Your Body Actually Works: Explained Like You’re 35

Your body is comprised of a series sensory feedback loops that help you interact, engage and react to the world around you; you are aware of some of them, but there is a lot going on under the surface that you likely don’t appreciate.  Your brain is constantly barraged by information from your eyes, ears, skin, muscles, joints, ligaments and organs, and it subconsciously decides which information you should really be paying attention to.  Your subconscious usually makes good decisions, but it is very influenced by emotional factors like stress and anxiety.  Your body is always creating new data for your brain, but your mood and personality will strongly impact what you do or don’t attend to mentally.  Pain is a good example of this phenomenon, but it takes a bit more groundwork to explain why this doesn’t just mean that pain is “all in your head.” Your ability to experience pain is an important evolutionary trait that helps your brain determine what is or isn’t safe for your body.  You can sense when something is too hot and may risk damaging your skin, when something is too sharp that it may cut you or if an object is putting too much pressure on you that it could injure tissues.  You live in a busy environment that requires you to sense, react and move in response to the forces around you and within you.  Your body will create a homeostatic resting state that becomes what you experience as your ‘normal,’ and you need to be able to sense when things fall outside of that normal so you can take action to help keep yourself healthy.  Pain is one of the signals that something is not normal, just like fever, altered heart rate, pins and needles, blurry vision, or a change ...
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How Your Body Actually Works: Explained Like You’re 5

Your body is part of who you are; it belongs to you.  You are responsible for it.  Your mother helped you build it, but it’s your job to grow it.  You get to grow your body by moving, seeing, eating, breathing, talking, laughing, touching, smelling, crying, running and jumping.  You get to experience it for about ninety years, that’s almost 33,000 days of doing stuff.  Every time you do something, your body learns.  Every time you try, your body remembers. The more you try, the more you learn.  The more you learn, the more fun your body becomes.  It can learn to run faster, sing better and think deeper when given time and practice. Some people’s bodies’ will learn faster than others and some people’s bodies’ will be bigger than others.  Some will seem smarter and some will seem stronger, but your body is yours and you are responsible to help it learn.  You can learn from watching, and listening, and reading, but nothing is better than actually doing.  You can learn anything you want, you just have to try and try and try, most of the time you won’t be very good at it, but each time you try your body will get a little bit better because it loves to learn. What you do with your body will affect how it feels, inside and out.  On the outside you have skin, a big waterproof suit that keeps all your guts and muscles and nerves on the inside while allowing you to feel everything on the outside.  Skin lets you feel what’s sharp and what’s dull, what’s hot and what’s cold; it is your body’s connection to the world.  When you are young your skin is tight and smooth, but as you get older it gets ...
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