Trauma and the Physical Body

Trauma And Physical Pain. Why Chronic Pain Can Be our Physical Response To A Traumatic Event

Trauma and the Physical Body by Dr Melanie Salmon

Chronic pain is not always the result of physical injury, it may be the body’s response to a traumatic event

Not only damaging to our mental health, trauma can also have an incredible impact on our physical body. Some chronic pain complaints, for example, can be attributed to residual trauma, our body responding to past events through muscle tensing.

So, what is chronic pain? What types of chronic pain are psychological? And how can past trauma affect our current physical state? 

What is chronic pain?

In the UK, around 28 million adults are affected by some type of chronic pain (42% of the population) and globally, more than 1.5 billion (American Academy of Pain Medicine). That’s 18% of the world’s population. 

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks, although it may in fact last for several years. It can limit your mobility and reduce your flexibility, strength, and endurance, making it challenging to get through daily tasks and activities. 


Collectively, we can categorise chronic pain as somatogenic pain (the cause is found within the structure of the body, the ‘soma’) and psychogenic pain, with the most common types of pain (across both categories) including headache; post-physical trauma pain; lower back pain; arthritis pain; neurogenic pain (pain caused by nerve damage); and psychogenic pain. The latter describes pain that isn’t caused by disease or nerve damage, the cause is thought to be in the mind. 

Trauma and the physical body: psychogenic pain

Psychogenic pain is chronic, disabling pain that is primarily caused by psychological factors. Factors such as beliefs, emotions, fears, or mental illness – like depression or anxiety – can trigger, exacerbate, or maintain pain that started in an innocuous way, such as an accident or fall.

Dr Robert Scaer (amongst others) has shown that chronic stress and trauma has a profound impact on the entire mind-body system, resulting in disease, sometimes decades later. 

Scaer studied the ‘diseases of the freeze’ – those diseases originating from a dysregulated autonomic nervous system – as a result of trauma. This includes chronic psychogenic pain. 

He showed that the majority of what we consider to be ‘arthritis’ of the neck and back is in fact myofascial pain associated with stress and trauma. An MRI scan shows no relationship with pathology. 

Trauma and The Physical Body by Dr Melanie Salmon. Trauma and the Physical Body by Dr Melanie Salmon Chronic pain is not always the result of physical injury, it may be the body’s response to a traumatic event Not only damaging to our mental health, trauma can also have an incredible impact on our physical body. Some chronic pain complaints, for example, can be attributed to residual trauma, our body responding to past events through muscle tensing. So, what is chronic pain? What types of chronic pain are psychological? And how can past trauma affect our current physical state? 

Trauma and the physical body: myofascial pain syndrome 

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a description of muscle pain: pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues. A chronic condition that affects the fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles), it may involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. 

Myofascial and related chronic pain is often traceable to complex childhood trauma and is always distributed through the back. This can be explained by understanding the back’s role in protecting us from physical trauma or threat.

When threatened with violence, the back will step in to protect the body; the muscles of the core are intensely activated, pulling the body into a contracted foetal position for self-defence. 

Picture a five-year-old child who waits for her father to come home. A bully, her father often threatens to beat the children when they’re naughty and walks through the door shouting. Immediately her body reacts by moving into a defensive position. 

If she’s safe enough to do so, she’ll curl up into a foetal position to get the best protection she can. However, if she is unable, she will form an incomplete foetal position. Her body will still want to contract but can’t. This incomplete foetal position will be stored in her muscle memory: tense and trying to contract without being able to. 

The emotional memory of this event is stored in the muscle groups involved in the defence forever afterwards; the emotional memory of trying to defend. The neural pathways are set, and in later life when the body experiences chronic stress – any stress – all these muscles will contract as they always did before, pulling tight into the same type of protective response. Instead of pulling the body into a foetal position, however, the muscles of the back and neck ache with widespread myofascial pain. 

This type of pain is uniquely stress-related.

Neglect and the physical body: example case study

Trauma may lead to a life of low-grade sustained vigilance, sensitive to environmental as well as internal triggers. 

If you can imagine a child that was repeatedly bullied from the age of six years old, while trying to find their place in the world and connect with society, they are rejected and lack social bonding. At home, parents are absent because they work all the time and therefore don’t offer sufficient care-giver support.

The child grows up with low self-esteem, feeling unworthy and unsafe in the world; trust in them and others is diminished. They may develop an inability to express themselves and repress their emotions for fear of punishment, judgement, or rejection. 

When confronted with a difficult situation, they bottle their emotions and feel internal anguish, repeatedly releasing toxic stress chemicals into the body. 

Their immune system is compromised, making them more susceptible to illness. Over time, they develop chronic pain. 


Healing trauma: body and mind

What has emerged from pioneers in the field of epigenetics and neuroscience, is an understanding of the importance of healing past trauma – and doing so by working with the subconscious mind.

While we cannot go back in time and ‘un-experience’ a traumatic event, our history is imprinted within us, crystallizing as our core beliefs or “truths”. To effectively heal from our past we must bypass the rational mind and access the source of our belief systems. 


Using the QEC method, we are able to change the belief systems and conditioning that no longer serve us. The neuroplasticity of the brain allows us to ‘rewire’ our neural pathways, freeing us from the limitations of our past.

In this way, we can fundamentally change the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us.

Most commonly used for working with trauma, depression, grief and loss, stress, health and relationships, you can learn more about QEC here


Up-Level Your Mind For A Healthy Body

7 to looks to uplevel your mind for a healthier body

Up-Leveling Your Mind For A Healthy Body with Laura Di-Franco

How to achieve a more healthy body with 7 tools that can up-level your mind. I was trained to help the body reach a state of peak performance as a physical therapist. But there was something missing from that traditional education. Something big. And it had nothing to do with what I did physically.

After memorizing muscles and mastering the complex web of tissues that make up this amazing vessel we walk around in I quickly realized my teachers had forgotten about the mind. They neglected to teach us about how our thinking impacts our physiology. Thus began my quest to become a holistic physical therapist who would teach the importance of the mind, body and soul in the quest for healing and peak performance.

“Discipline the mind, the body will follow.” Master John Holloway

My martial arts instructor had the secret in that quote that’s one of the most powerful tools we can use for a healthy, strong, peak performing body. Get your mindset right and you can expect to feel and be healthier. Master it and you can expect to enjoy benefits that far outweigh just looking and feeling good physically.

We’re beginning to understand and embrace the mind-body as an intimately integrated unit. The work of Esther Hicks and Joe Dispenza is more mainstream now. Thoughts create. And positive thoughts raise your energy vibration to a state that helps you transform your physical body. It’s just that we aren’t yet making this part of our basic health education.

Until then it’s up to us to practice and teach our families, friends, clients, and colleagues how to think better, so they can enjoy the powerful effects of that important skill and discover the missing link they’ve been looking for.

mind for a healthier body

Here are 7 tools you can use to up-level your mind, thoughts, and beliefs, to improve your physical health:

Journal Every Day
“You can’t clean the house if you don’t first see the dirt.” Louise Hay. Writing is an awareness tool and any transformational practice must start by practicing the tools that will enhance awareness so that you have a choice to think differently. Start by writing a little every day about how you feel, what you’re thinking, how the day went, what you ate, your exercise routine, etc. When you write it down it serves as a record to track your progress, but it also serves as a way to move what’s on the inside in the form of thoughts to the outside on the paper. And that process will help you shift the energy.

Envision Health And Fitness
Practice visualizing the state of your body-mind that you crave. Can you see and feel yourself
moving and living in the body you desire? What is she doing? Who is she hanging out with? What is she eating? What exercise is she practicing? The more detailed you are with your vision of the you, you desire, the better. Try doing this for five minutes every day.

Meditate Every Day

Sometimes it’s hard to visualize that perfect body when you’re reality is far from it. Raising your energy vibration might require you get still and just breathe, with no agenda. If you’ve built a lifetime’s worth of negative thoughts about your body you may have to use meditation to take the first step toward clearing your mind and moving into neutral territory. Mindful meditation, where you clear your mind and connect with your body sensations, especially the breath, is the first step. Try to meditate for a few minutes every day.

Create A Positive Morning Routine

In your first waking hours, you have a great opportunity to set the rest of your day up for body-mind success. Creating a positive morning routine will boost your mood and raise your vibration. Start in bed, when you’re first noticing you’re waking up. Your eyes will still be closed. Practice reciting a positive affirmation, for example, “I can’t wait to see what this day brings!” After you get up you might choose several things as part of your positive morning routine, such as exercise, journaling, goal setting, meditation or visualization. Set your mind right and that will infuse into the rest of the day.

Practice Body Awareness

A state of mindful and embodied presence is a practice that will serve you well for the rest of your life. It’s a form of meditation but practiced in each moment of the day whenever we wish. You don’t have to sit on a pillow with your legs crossed, watch a candle flame, or chant to practice this. It’s more about the way you show up in your moments in a full-feeling state, observing what you sense and what you think. And then not attaching to those sensations, feelings or emotions, but just noticing them. With awareness you then have a choice to pick thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that serve your biggest goals or deepest desires.

Learn About Your intuition

A strong connection to your intuition will give you the clarity you want to make every decision you need to make in every area of your life. When you’re connected to your intuition you’ll receive messages about the next best step, whether it relates to your body, your relationships, your work or your purpose. Connecting to it requires learning the language of your body, the sensations, feelings and emotions, and understanding the difference between inner critic thoughts and intuitional messages. We all have intuition. It’s just a matter of learning, or re-learning how to connect with and use it.

Choose Better Thoughts

With all this awareness it’s time to take responsibility for everything in your life, including the thoughts you think about yourself and the world, the beliefs you hold and are living by, and the behaviors that are a result of those thoughts and beliefs. With awareness you choose what to think about your health, your body, your fitness level, and the next best step to take toward those things. With awareness and the ability to choose positive, high-vibe thoughts, you’ll be creating an energetic environment for whatever you desire to manifest. Consciously choosing things like health, wellness, love, joy, gratitude, empowerment, strength and hope is a practice worth mastering.

Remember, it is what you think it is. So think something good today!

Laura Di Franco Up-level Your Mind for a Healthier Body

Laura Di Franco, MPT won’t let you settle for a mediocre life. Your health, wealth and happiness is one Brave healing book, poem, workshop, strategy session or moment away. With almost three decades of expertise in holistic physical therapy, six published books and a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, Laura’s energy and method are contagious and unlike anything you’re experienced. Check out her newest book, BraveHealing, a Guide for Your Journey, her PODCAST, her badass programs and free
Facebook group for healers.


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