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In the physical therapy clinic, it is not uncommon to see the same person for the same problem after participating in the same event. The yearly spring gardening marathon creates the annual bloom of debilitating lower back pain. The never missed 10 mile “fun run” in August inflames the knee until mid-October. The recent popularity of “Adventure Runs” has created a migratory return of patients with recurrent pain problems. Gretchen Reynolds wrote a great article in the New York Times, “Forgetting the Pain of Exercise,” that offers some psychological insight into this phenomenon.

The physical therapy patients’ “selective amnesia” of prior pain provoking events is discussed in this article. It appears the emotional context of a painful event plays a role in our memory of pain. Our enjoyment of the pain provoking behavior reduces our memory of the pain that it created. The problem is that all of us have the capacity to suffer another injury, we just may no longer have the capacity to fully recover.

To read the article, click on the link below:


-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS