Pain, immunity and your well being!

Pain, immunity and your well being!

Picture these two scenarios:download

1) You have just been rejected for a date with someone you’ve been very fond off….(sad face)


2) Your last rep of your deadlift; has left you with a stabbing sensation in your lumbar spine…

Why have I asked you to think about the two contrasting scenarios? Do you think they can be interrelated?

YES! Pain can be driven emotionally and physically!
The feeling of rejection, or mechanical irritation in a exercise lights up the same area in brain, the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC). In fact a study by Eisenberger and colleagues (2003) participants were placed in functional MRI and asked to playing a game against a partner. It showed that when the participant experienced “social rejection”  because their partner stopped playing,  the ACC lit up.

And then you watch  ‘that guy’ at your local gym, who lift’s weights rather poorly (to use more kinder words). He looks like he might snap his spine in half every squat. You scratch your head and wonder, “how the heck do you not get pain?”.

That is the complexity of pain ladies and gentleman. Pain is specifically, biologically innate to protect the organism of threat and danger. One’s organism has a highly sophisticated computer (Thalamus) that relies on multiple pieces of stimuli and memory to decide whether or not danger is present. Now; this happens faster than you you can cognitively process. Remember the last time you burnt your hand? Did you have to think about pulling your hand away? No way! A-Delta nerve fibers reflex your hand away from danger. And the latent onset of pain is due to your C-Fibers (thermal and chemical). And don’t get me started on the Periaqueductal grey matter and free nerve endings:/

So; by now you can see pain is complex. And pain is needed for the survival of the organism. So why do 1 in 5 Australian’s (including adolescents) and 1 in 3 over the age of 63 experience chronic pain? Research has been looking closely at a important inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) and again your sophisticated computer the Thalamus. You can say there is a disconnection with specific communicative pathways in the brain (Thalamocortical rhythm). To put this in easy Spanglish, your brain learns to poorly discriminate, what is danger and what is not. And hence how chronic pain sufferers have widespread symptoms such as Fibromyalgia, with question marks over one’s etiology.

Let me teach you how to keep your Thalamus happy.
It is all about your well being and immunity!

There is increasing evidence in a growing field (psychoneuroimmunology) that shows that well being and lifestyle influence our immunity and susceptibility to illness.  In research, endotoxin’s are used intravenously to increase inflammation (without a pathogen) to study the behavior of organisms (including humans). What I’m getting at, is psychologically/metabolically healthy individuals were imunosupressive to the endotoxin. So not only were there increases in pro-inflammatory’s (IL-6, IL-10, TNF), but  the participating individuals did not get SICK. Pain, especially when chronic is highly inflammatory. And thus being psychologically stressed, obese, lacking social connection and the big ONE lacking physical exercise can increase pain signals.

Have I answered your questions? Probably not.
Why? Because there is no magic pill.

Science is learning more about genetics and so forth. The big BUT is…. that your well being is so important. Social connection, nutrition, mindfulness and of course EXERCISE are going to keep your vagus nerve happy and an abundance of serotonin and oxytocin to keep the chronic pain away.


James Smith




Eisenberger , NIE, 2012. The pain of social disconnection: examining the shared neural underpinnings of physical and social pain.. Nat Rev Neurosci. , 2012 May 3;13(6), 421-34.

Henderson , LA, 2013. Chronic pain: lost inhibition?. J Neurosci, 17, 0174-13.

Lasselin, JL, et al., 2016. Well-being and immune response: a multi-system perspective. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 29, 34–41.

City to Bay: Preparation is the key to success

City to Bay: Preparation is the key to success

219945-city-bay-2010-major-event-650x366-How many times have we heard the saying ‘Preparation is the key to success’? Similarly one of my favourites is ‘In failing to prepare we are preparing to fail’. These sayings can be applied leading into any event in our lives from an up and coming job interview, to a 4 year olds birthday party, to painting the walls of your house. Preparation is crucial, however what comes before preparation???

Identifying the goal
Without establishing what it is we are setting out to achieve we have nothing to prepare for. And on the flip side, without establishing where we are now compared to that goal, how can we direct and design our preparation plan to ensure we are on the right track.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 6.36.23 PMEach year in Adelaide the City to Bay fun run comes around and 35,000 people run, walk or wheel their way either 6 or 12km to the Glenelg. What a fantastic event!!! But every year during July and August we hear people say ‘one day I am going to participate in that event’ or ‘I would love to be fit enough to join in with the team at work’. If your goal is to participate or compete in this event then let’s start setting you up for success. Preparation for an event can:

  • Improve your aerobic fitness and physical capacity
  • Improve the time and ease at which you complete the event
  • Increase confidence and self esteem
  • Greater sense of achievement at completion
  • Reduce injury risk

At iNform we are launching an 8 week training and race preparation program leading in to the City to Bay for 2016 to be held on the 18th September. The program will allow you to adequately set goals for what you want to achieve out of the event, establish your current baseline level of function and fitness and then plan and train for the event from there. For those interested in participating in the program they will receive:

  • Baseline aerobic fitness testing
  • Coaching around goals and behaviour change
  • Weekly 1:1 individualised exercise sessions focusing on running/walking economy and corrective exercise
  • Individually tailored running/walking training program
  • Support and guidance leading up to the event

If you would like to know more about this 8 week program please call iNform on 84312111 or email us on


What does your sleep say about your health?

Woman trying to sleepSleep Awareness Week is here and what better time to remind us all the importance of a good night’s sleep.

Do you consistently get less than six hours sleep?
Or, do you frequently wake during the night?

If you do, don’t fear, as we have a few practical sleep hygiene tips to help improve your sleep patterns.  (more…)

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