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Mind Tricks for Relieving Pain

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Still, women can increase their tolerance by using their head. “Your pain threshold can be significantly altered by your emotions,” says Beverly E. Thorn, Ph.D., chair of psychology at The University of Alabama. “And over time, the brain can rewire itself to be more or less responsive to certain kinds of pain.” For example, women who choose to run long races with sore hamstrings, bum knees, or serious side cramps may experience less pain sensation because they actually want to be running–their positive attitude can overpower the brain’s danger signals and activate the pain-thwarting chemical serotonin.

Yoga moves to help ease pain.

Likewise, research shows that Olympic athletes can inure themselves to pain through strict mental perseverance and intense repetitive physical training. In other words, the more laps you swim, hills you bike, or miles you run, the more accustomed to pain–and immune to hurt–you can become.

Breathing exercises and self-talk also have been shown to reduce discomfort. Next time you’re up against big-time pain (e.g., getting a tetanus shot, having a tooth drilled, sitting through a meeting while you have a migraine), inhale slowly through your nose for 10 seconds while silently repeating a mantra like “It will get better soon” or “I’m not going to quit.” When you exhale, imagine you’re shooting all the achiness out through your nose.

Staying hydrated and eating fish, fruit, and veggies can help increase your pain tolerance.

Try to practice setting measurable goals (I’ll get through the next hour) and then consistently increase them (I’ll get through the next two hours) to encourage yourself to adjust mentally and physically to any harrowing hurt. “Once you start doing these things, they will become a habit and you’ll be able to tolerate pain better,” says Janet Taylor, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City.

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7:04PM PDT on Jun 23, 2011


8:29AM PDT on Jun 6, 2011


9:32AM PDT on May 27, 2011


5:51AM PDT on May 26, 2011


12:40AM PDT on May 23, 2011

Oh, my pain is constant, 24/7. There is NOTHING that can be done, and well, heat is about the best remedy.

2:47AM PDT on May 21, 2011

I absolutely HATE to take if there are medication-free remedies for pain (especially back), my ears are wide open! I must agree with article-exercise does help pain (walking is great when backache is the culprit)!

3:47PM PDT on May 20, 2011


10:16AM PDT on May 20, 2011

Have constant pain from fibro. Had it over 20 yrs, last 2 have been all but more than can tolorate. Figure pain threshold is shot now. No pain meds. work period. They ate up stomac linning. Tylonol, blue gell like Icy Hot is what gets me thru . I just live in pain so sleep more than needed. Need a dumpster just to clean house, the more done, the sicker I get.

3:10PM PDT on May 19, 2011

This was a great article and I do beleive that your pain tolorence is in your genes.I also beleive it is mind over matter on some things and the more you think about the pain the worse it gets.

10:15AM PDT on May 19, 2011

It was very painful reading this...

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