Real Life Runners with Angie and Kevin Brown

330: Exploring Chronic Pain in Runners with Dr. Tawny Kross

October 26, 2023 Angie Brown, Tawny Kross
330: Exploring Chronic Pain in Runners with Dr. Tawny Kross
Real Life Runners with Angie and Kevin Brown
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Real Life Runners with Angie and Kevin Brown
330: Exploring Chronic Pain in Runners with Dr. Tawny Kross
Oct 26, 2023
Angie Brown, Tawny Kross

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Are you ready to redefine your relationship with pain? Take a deep breath, lace up your running shoes, and join me as I venture into the often misunderstood world of chronic pain in runners with my guest, Dr. Tawny Kross. Together, we pull back the layers on the complexities of pain, debunking myths and illuminating hard truths about pain and running. As we unpack the personas of the 'pusher', 'ignore', and 'manager', we bring to light how these approaches to pain could inadvertently lead to more chronic issues.


Dr. Kross takes us on a fascinating journey into the realm of the mind-body connection and its intricate role in chronic pain. Don't be fooled; positive thinking alone isn't the magic bullet. Instead, we delve into the pivotal role our subconscious minds play in our overall pain experience and how lifestyle choices and pain management styles can potentially alter our pain trajectory. Whether you've been a runner for years or are just starting your journey, this conversation promises to be eye-opening.


We provide tangible tips to manage chronic pain, focusing on altering internal and external factors to minimize our bodies' stress response. From the importance of deep breathing to the surprising influence of nutrition, we offer a fresh perspective on your running journey. We also touch on Dr. Kross's free Facebook community group, a fantastic resource for all listeners, and the upcoming workshop inside the Academy, ideal for those wanting to explore mindset and subconscious work in a supportive environment. Tune in and prepare to change your perception of chronic pain in runners.


Dr. Tawny Kross is the founder of The BodyMind Method, which is the system she implements to take business-minded moms with chronic stress and chronic pain out of pain and survival mode so that they can thrive at work and at home.

She graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University in 2013. Her journey as a chronic pain specialist and coach evolved from nearly a decade of practice at a veteran's hospital. Because of the complex histories and physical and sexual traumas many veterans have, in order to better serve and help them heal from chronic pain, Dr. Kross grew her practice, knowledge, and breadth of expertise to include nutrition, hypnosis, guided imagery, mindful

To join the Academy waitlist, click here.


Thanks for Listening!!

Be sure to hit FOLLOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player

Leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one!



Grab your free Strength Guide for Runners here.

Interested in our coaching program? Check out our coaching options here.

Grab your free copy of the Running Snapshot by clicking here.

Come find us on Instagram and say hi!





Don't forget: The information on this website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition or to provide medical advice. It is intended for general education in the areas of health and wellness. All information contained in this site is intended to be educational in nature. Nothing should be considered medical advice for your specific situation.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Are you ready to redefine your relationship with pain? Take a deep breath, lace up your running shoes, and join me as I venture into the often misunderstood world of chronic pain in runners with my guest, Dr. Tawny Kross. Together, we pull back the layers on the complexities of pain, debunking myths and illuminating hard truths about pain and running. As we unpack the personas of the 'pusher', 'ignore', and 'manager', we bring to light how these approaches to pain could inadvertently lead to more chronic issues.


Dr. Kross takes us on a fascinating journey into the realm of the mind-body connection and its intricate role in chronic pain. Don't be fooled; positive thinking alone isn't the magic bullet. Instead, we delve into the pivotal role our subconscious minds play in our overall pain experience and how lifestyle choices and pain management styles can potentially alter our pain trajectory. Whether you've been a runner for years or are just starting your journey, this conversation promises to be eye-opening.


We provide tangible tips to manage chronic pain, focusing on altering internal and external factors to minimize our bodies' stress response. From the importance of deep breathing to the surprising influence of nutrition, we offer a fresh perspective on your running journey. We also touch on Dr. Kross's free Facebook community group, a fantastic resource for all listeners, and the upcoming workshop inside the Academy, ideal for those wanting to explore mindset and subconscious work in a supportive environment. Tune in and prepare to change your perception of chronic pain in runners.


Dr. Tawny Kross is the founder of The BodyMind Method, which is the system she implements to take business-minded moms with chronic stress and chronic pain out of pain and survival mode so that they can thrive at work and at home.

She graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University in 2013. Her journey as a chronic pain specialist and coach evolved from nearly a decade of practice at a veteran's hospital. Because of the complex histories and physical and sexual traumas many veterans have, in order to better serve and help them heal from chronic pain, Dr. Kross grew her practice, knowledge, and breadth of expertise to include nutrition, hypnosis, guided imagery, mindful

To join the Academy waitlist, click here.


Thanks for Listening!!

Be sure to hit FOLLOW on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player

Leave a review on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings and reviews really help and we read each one!



Grab your free Strength Guide for Runners here.

Interested in our coaching program? Check out our coaching options here.

Grab your free copy of the Running Snapshot by clicking here.

Come find us on Instagram and say hi!





Don't forget: The information on this website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical condition or to provide medical advice. It is intended for general education in the areas of health and wellness. All information contained in this site is intended to be educational in nature. Nothing should be considered medical advice for your specific situation.

Speaker 1:

This is the Real Life Runners podcast, episode number 330, exploring Chronic Pain in Runners with Dr Taney Cross. If you're looking for ways to bring more joy into your running and you want to be a physically and mentally stronger runner, you're in the right place. This is the Real Life Runners podcast, and we're your hosts, Kevin and Angie Brown.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for spending some time with us today. Now let's get running.

Speaker 1:

What's up runners, welcome to the show today. I have a special guest on the podcast today and we have a fantastic conversation waiting for you. I'm talking to Dr Taney Cross, all about chronic pain in runners, and before you click off this episode thinking that you don't have chronic pain, you need to stop and listen, because what you learn on today's episode is definitely going to surprise you. What Dr Cross explains to us about the definition of what chronic pain is. I can almost guarantee that most runners have experienced some level of chronic pain at some point in their running careers because, if you didn't know, up to 80 to 90% of all runners experience some sort of running related pain in their running journey. And so today we really explore this idea of what is chronic pain and what are the causes of chronic pain, because it's not what you think. Most likely, it is not only tied to a physical condition. So, believe it or not, it's not just a physical thing that's causing pain. This episode is so helpful in so many ways and I can't wait for you to listen to it.

Speaker 1:

Dr Taney Cross is the founder of the Mind Body Method, which is the system she implements to take business-minded moms with chronic stress and chronic pain, out of pain and survival mode so they can thrive at work and at home. Dr Cross is a physical therapist. She is a chronic pain specialist and now she is a coach that helps people to heal from chronic pain. She is an expert in this field and I'm so excited for you guys to hear the episode today, so let's jump right in. All right, you guys, welcome to the show today. I'm super excited to have Dr Taney Cross on the podcast with me today. Taney, welcome, I'm so glad you're here. Thank you, I'm so glad to be here. We are gonna have such a fun conversation. Taney is a physical therapist like myself, so we are gonna do our best not to get into any sort of like PT type speak today and keep it very understandable for all of our listeners. But, taney, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do and who you help.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so, like Dr Angie said, I am a physical therapist. However, she and I are on completely different tracks. She's focusing very much on athletes and runners in the here and now, and my career has primarily been in the field of working with veterans. So most of these people that I work with have been long and out of their prime of their days, where they were pushing themselves in whatever capacity you can imagine, jumping out of airplanes and lifting and running and rucksacking millions and billions of miles.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, definitely athletes, for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yes, big athletes for sure. There's definitely some, I think, crossover personalities. I see Angie with our people. So I've been in the hospital for about 10 years now actually over 10 years now and it was a very interesting evolution from going in with kind of just a okay, let me give stretches and exercises and people will be magically better. Yes, wouldn't that be lovely. I know I think they oversold it to us when we were in school and now I work specializing in chronic pain and I serve both the military population or the veteran population still as well, as I have my own business where I am helping moms, working moms and former athletes to get back into movement, especially after having chronic pain or other chronic conditions for quite a while.

Speaker 1:

Okay, awesome. So people might be thinking to themselves okay, why are you on a running podcast right now? And I think that Tani is gonna be an awesome resource for us because let's talk about chronic pain first of all. What is chronic pain? Because I think that you say this word, chronic pain, and people are like, yeah, I don't have chronic pain. Like what are you talking about? Like I've got aches and pains sometimes, but chronic pain seems kind of like this scary label to put on something. So what is chronic pain? How do you define it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so you're absolutely right. There's like a lot of different perceptions of what it is and the definition itself as at least defined by, like you know, the powers that be, international association study pain. It's pain that's been there for a longer than three to six months, which is very very broad.

Speaker 2:

I know it's not that long. It's very broad and it's very general. So anytime that you've had pain that has at least that duration, if not longer, then technically you have chronic pain. The other thing I wanna break down, too, is that chronic pain doesn't necessarily mean forever pain, because that was also something that I saw a lot. It's like oh, I have chronic pains, this is what I had to live with, this is something that's gonna be forever. So, yes, it can be short, from three to six months long, and for many of the people that I work with, they've had pain for 20 plus years.

Speaker 1:

Right. So that's a really good thing for us to know, because I think that a lot of runners then, like hearing that definition, would say, oh yeah, actually I have had some sort of chronic pain, probably at some point in my life.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So tell us a little like what are some examples of chronic pain that you often see, like both with the veteran population, like I'm sure a lot of them have, maybe, like you said, more long duration, 20, 30 years types of pain, versus some of the moms that you're helped, like those active moms that used to be athletes that you're now helping in your coaching practice? What are some examples?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so there's definitely a broad range and it depends on who diagnosed you. Yeah, so it can range from things like arthritis to and arthritis can break down to osteoarthritis versus more autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and it can also range to things like sciatica, low back pain, fibromyalgia so chronic pain itself is like a huge branch of like. You can have pain pretty much anywhere, so if you've had pain anywhere for an extended period of time, chances are I've worked with it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so what do you think like? What are some of the typical causes of chronic pains and how do most people handle it?

Speaker 2:

So this is such a good question Because I think that the biomedical or the conventional world has an idea, or it used to have an idea, that it was caused like, especially most causes of physical chronic pain is something physical Like hey, I've got a herniated disc that has been unresolved.

Speaker 2:

I've got arthritis. That is going to continue as I age, and this is just a misconception that I wanna make sure that people know is no longer true. Okay, the cause of chronic pain nowadays in general whether it started with an injury, whether it started with no injury usually has to do with what they call a sensitization of the nervous system. So, let's say, you had like an ankle sprain and the tissues and the muscles around the area have healed, and if you still have pain that is lingering, then now the nerves that are in the area have become more hyper reactive to tiny little things, and those things can be, doesn't have to be movement, although most people fix it on movement because obviously, physical pain, physical movement. Okay, what can I do to avoid this sensation?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

However, because we know that nerves are responsive and reactive to a wide range of things, from like temperature changes to emotions, thoughts, stress, to nutrition, there's actually a number of factors that might be sensitizing the nerve that people are unaware of. That plays a part in the quote. Cause of chronic pain.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. So what causes our nerves to become hyper sensitive after an injury or even without an injury?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so because the body works like an ecosystem and nerves are actually trying to assess all of those things at once, usually whether there's an injury or not injury. If someone has persistent pain, their nerves sensitize because they were in a period of heightened stress, so a good example of this would be actually, this is one of my favorite stories, like demolition derby drivers. I don't know if you ever heard this one.

Speaker 1:

No, okay, so this is one, please share.

Speaker 2:

So demolition derby drivers I think they, on average, crash 50 times a night. Wow, yeah, it's a lot. And they also are driving at least 25 to 35 miles per hour, okay, and so they essentially over their course of their career, they have a lot of crashes, so a lot of potential tissue injury, right, most of the time when people get thrown, the scenario for me I'm like okay, what do you think that their average chronic pain is, given that they have repeated injuries over time? Yeah, and those people quote something really high, but it's actually less than 2%.

Speaker 1:

Interesting yeah, and why do you think?

Speaker 2:

that is so the research study that was talking about this demolition derby driver piece. They were comparing that to even someone, the average fender bender, right, someone barely loved Tapsu. Now, the incidence of chronic pain is high among those populations and they found that the main difference was hey, even though you got barely tacked, your stress levels are high. This your inconvenience, you have to deal with road rage, point. You're going from point A to point B. There's lawyers, there's a lot of stuff that is involved, so it's a heightened period of stress. Meanwhile, demolition derby drivers, they don't exactly see that as stress. In fact, stress for them is like fun. So they're like hey, just keep crashing. So they might. So they might experience repeat injury. However, as soon as those tissues recover, their nerves actually went right back down to their resting levels.

Speaker 1:

They're good to go. That's so interesting. So you think that there's a piece of that. That's kind of like the unexpected stress versus the expected stress, right? Because when you get into a fender bender, that's not something that you expect and then all of a sudden there's all this extra stuff, like you just mentioned, thrown on top of you that you were not expecting, right? There's the insurance claims and then you have to take the car to get repaired and there's all these other things that you were not planning on, versus the demolition driver that is totally expecting to crash 20 times that night. So it's expected that this is just what's going to happen and, like you said, it's fun. So it's the thoughts about the situation at hand that is making a huge difference here.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. And then they've just to kind of add on to that too, they've done studies on thoughts alone and how that changes physiology and it's huge, like what people see with Tell us more, please. Well, if we don't go into a research study? I always like to use example of like if you're watching a movie, right, and you're seeing I don't know something scary on TV and I don't like scary movies, so I don't either.

Speaker 1:

And like it is October and all of these streaming services have all of these horror movies previewed on. Like I am not, I don't even want to turn my TV on.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, during the month of.

Speaker 1:

October.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, it's funny, I'm exactly the same way. I don't like to like dangle my feet off my bed because I'm like terrified.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes I'm like I'm gonna have to stay down Monster under the bed.

Speaker 2:

that's when they come get you. But that being said, like I know this, I'm an adult right, and my imagination can run wild. And if I watch something on TV, and I'm watching something scary, what changes is my physiology? My heart rate goes up, my breath starts to get into that fight or fight shallow pattern and essentially, you're going to see if you were to like be able to measure me in real time. And then there are these biochemical changes that indicate stress, even though, quote, I should be expecting you know what's happening.

Speaker 1:

Well, and you're also sitting in your living room knowing that you're completely safe.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, exactly. So there's like much, much bigger tie. I think people need to see with, like, what's happening on an emotional and mind level that does affect and change physical states, including your nerves.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that's so important. So do you think that chronic pain, like in what you've seen both in your practice and in the research that you've done, do you think it's more prevalent now since we have a less active society? Like, I think that, like as a whole, I would say that our society keeps becoming more and more sedentary, less active. We're eating a lot more processed foods and our nutrition levels and our activity levels are much different than they used to be, say you know, even 20, 30 years ago. Do you think that there is a link between that, those lifestyle choices and chronic pain that you've seen?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think the lifestyle choices we can think about it like. So let's, let's use a non lifestyle choice scenario and see if we can bring it in. Let's say, someone comes out from being immobilized for a period of time right they? They maybe were in surgery or in the hospital, they haven't moved in a while, and when you try to get them to move again, the muscles and joints are like whoa, I haven't done this, this is a lot.

Speaker 2:

So in the same way, if we're sedentary if I'm not and some people obviously don't necessarily choose to be sedentary, but it's very easy to fall into that pattern but let's say someone is sedentary, their muscles and their joints essentially have deconditioned and that means that any extra movement that you try from there on out, the nerves are just like whoa, this is new, this is. This is very I'm not prepared for this. And so it can be more sensitive, more reactive. Same thing with nutrition. With nutrition, if your body is is used to eating this highly processed food, which the research shows repeatedly that it actually has a change in the nerves itself, it actually causes more inflammation to occur, inflammation not being bad, but if you have chronic inflammation, then it swings your body system too far one way. So that also sensitizes the nerves itself. So yeah, lifestyle choices can be, can be a huge part of what is leading us to have more sensitized nerves.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so bringing this kind of back around to running. You know, I think that we as runners take pride in our lifestyle. Right, like? We are going out, we're running multiple times per week. Hopefully we're strength training If anybody's listening to this podcast, you better be strength training and if you don't know what to do, go get my free guide over on the website. But we are typically active people, so we wouldn't necessarily put ourselves into that category. At the same time, I think that there's a lot of runners that live with pain and think that it's normal. Right, they're just like oh well, this is just a part of being a runner, this is just, you know, part of the process. Like my legs hurt, my calf hurts, I have this pain, I have that pain. What are your thoughts about that? Just kind of this idea of living with pain and just thinking that it's normal.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I would say it is one of the things that I think you hear a lot in pelvic health, like pelvic floor dysfunction, is common, but commonality doesn't mean normality, right and there are a lot of really important distinction.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yes. Because it's common doesn't make it normal yeah.

Speaker 2:

Exactly Right. And and while I I would say sometimes people have this mindset Okay, it's as I'm aging, when I age, I'm supposed to feel more pain. Yep, and as I age, I'm supposed to become more decrepit, or whatever it is. Yeah, that's not been found to be true. In fact, some of my fittest individuals are all in their 80s.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I love that. Tell us more about those people and tell us because this is this is one of the myths that we like to break down on the podcast also is that there does not have to be this inevitable decline of aging that some people think that there is. People have been fed this story that well, as you get older, you're just like your joint, you're going to develop arthritis and then your joints are going to break down and you're not going to be able to be as active and it's I think it's untrue, completely Like and there's lots of research now that it's starting to show it's not based on just chronological age, it's based on what we're doing, how we're living our lives, like how much movement we're getting, how much activity we're getting, how we're choosing to keep our body strong. So I 100% agree with what you're saying, that you know there is not this just inevitable decline of aging. And what do you think that we can do, I think, to maybe combat that, or to combat those thoughts and those myths that seem to still be present.

Speaker 2:

So that's, I feel like there's like a wide range of things that could happen. The easiest one is to just be educated, right, like we. A lot of us have these beliefs and ideas that came formulated from you know, mom and dad telling us this, or like the people that we grew up with, and, unfortunately, even the medical system. Right, a lot of doctors do say, oh yeah, it's because you're older, you're aging, right. So that's an old, old belief and myth that we need to do away with, and the only reason why we know that is because we have all this new research and we are getting more educated on what actually aging looks like and what it could and shouldn't mean.

Speaker 2:

I mean, you can see, like the people in the blue zones and Japanese. I mean these people are like walking like thousands of miles right, like every year, and they're probably some of our oldest populations ever. So one getting educated and being able to see and recognize examples of that, that like challenge your own beliefs, like that's just not true. And then, if you, if you're looking at yourself as like well, I have pain, like why do I have pain? Maybe start to to look at areas that you haven't explored, like, maybe, if, if not working with Angie, with looking at other reasons for why your body might have some sensitization patterns going on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I definitely want to get into that. But before we jump into kind of the reasons behind it, I want to you to go over an Instagram post that you would put up a while back. That I thought was really, really helpful. And if you guys aren't following Tani yet on Instagram, we're going to put the link in the show notes. For sure, she's Dr Tani Cross on Instagram, with some periods in there and stuff, so we'll put all that linked in this in the show notes, drtanicross. So.

Speaker 1:

But you put up a post here last year about pain management styles and I really want to talk about this and kind of dig into this a lot, because I think that you know, maybe people are listening to this podcast right now and are still not bought in of like, oh yes, this is something that I actually should pay attention to or that might be affecting me, and I think that there's a lot. There are a lot more people in the world that are experiencing chronic pain or have experienced chronic pain and just not recognized it and just not realized what's going on. So you talk about the different pain management styles and you have a couple of different examples here, but one of the things, one of the ones that you put in your in your post, are the pusher right, people who push through pain to get through their every day. They believe that they have to keep muscling through because they've learned no pain, no gain. They feel no pain in front of other people and feel disconnected and misunderstood by others. Chronic fear that with time things will only get worse and they will pay for beating their bodies up as they get older.

Speaker 1:

And I think that there's a lot of runners that can relate to that because they maybe, you know, before they found this podcast, maybe before they realized that most of their runs should be easy and we should only be pushing our body hard part of the time. They were just they subscribed to that no pain, no gain mentality. I mean, I know I did like growing up when I was playing sports. That's what we were told. You know you have to give 110% every single time that you're out in the field.

Speaker 1:

But that mentality does not work well for endurance athletes, does not work well for runners, because most of our training needs to be done. 80% of our training needs to be done at an easy effort level and then 20%. Yes, we do have to push ourselves harder if we want to challenge ourselves to improve. But there's people that go out there and that they push themselves hard every single day. I think you know I want to get faster, I want to be able to run longer, and then they just kind of like ignore some of these pains that pop up along the way.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think it also. I think, hopefully a trend that will fade out over time, we don't know, but intensity doesn't equal any change like long term, like if you are intense all the time. First of all, we're not machines, we're going to break down. We do have a reserve of energy for, you know, big moments when we just save a baby or something, and so, yes, we should absolutely have some times where we are challenging ourselves.

Speaker 2:

But for the most part, I see that for runners, people who are just in general like perfectionists and like people in the military, where we've been told, hey, you really like, you can't change anything unless you finish the mission and unless you like, push the borders away. Your body can do, and the body we know for certain like, is very slowly adaptive. It changes with intent, with intention, with frequency, consistency over time and it doesn't need, like a high level of stress, always to change. In fact, exposure to high levels of any type of stress, physical or mental, will usually wear the body down in some shape or some fashion. So I see the pusher a lot in runners that I work with, as well as the veterans that I work with and high performers in general, I think right.

Speaker 1:

Well, like I think, even if you are a high performer at work or you're just a perfectionist, like you're always, we have this idea that we need to be pushing ourselves all the time. It's that hustle culture. As well as like to get ahead, I have to just like do, do, do, I have to do more. I can't sleep. I have to just like keep pushing myself forward, forward all the time, and it does lead to a lot of problems, in this case chronic pain. And the other one that I thought was a good one for runners, that some of runners might be able to relate to, was the ignore. So can you tell us a little bit about the ignore?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so there's sometimes a very it's like a cousin of the pusher in my opinion, but people will get a pain sensation. They're like okay, if I just ignore this thing then, it, then they'll go away, and so there there are oftentimes people that just pretend that that pain is not real. This is not a real thing, and if I can just ignore it, it should be totally fine.

Speaker 1:

If I just ignore it, it'll go away, right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. And the trouble is, like during the day, when people are really, really busy, yes, you can totally distract yourself and ignore it, but at the very end of the day, what happens is your subconscious knows that you've been like bearing this problem and it will come out and it will talk to you. So a lot of people will actually experience insomnia or like just there's nothing to distract them from that pain that creeps up at night. I also would say too it's kind of like I describe it to some of my the clients that I work with it's like having like someone give you a math problem, right, like if I said hey, angie, I want you to solve the square root of 372. And then you're like, okay, I'm going to go busy myself with this and this and this and that. At the end of the day, that problem is solved.

Speaker 2:

So just because we know that there isn't any injury necessarily at play doesn't necessarily mean that the pain should be ignored.

Speaker 1:

Okay, good to know. And then, because if we ignore it, it's just, it's not going to change anything, it's just going to show up in different ways or at different times. Absolutely Exactly, all right, tell me about the manager, right? People who spend more than 50% of their week looking for short term ways to fix or reduce their pain? This to me, is like the people that are looking for all like the tricks and hacks and like the fancy recovery tools, like the boots and the massage guns and all these little things that they think is going to magically fix their pain.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you might see it in your runners. They might be wearing braces or throwing on kinesio tape to, like you know, help them queue on their posture or the muscles or the glutes, and like not to say those things aren't helpful because they were developed for a reason. But generally speaking, they're kind of like the band aid fixes right. Like you, you have something that can briefly make your out to feel kind of okay. Yep, Again, it's still not addressing the problem and usually what people find is that even these racing techniques or massage things, it's only short term effective and less and less effective over time.

Speaker 1:

Okay. So even though it feels better in the moment, you're not actually fixing the problem, and do you think that someone that reacts that way to their pain is just trying to find, you know, these little band aid types of solutions? In some ways are they making that pain worse, or do you think it's just that it's not getting?

Speaker 2:

better. I would say it's generally not getting better. It would be interesting to kind of piece out what they might mean by it makes pain worse, because sometimes I mean that could be true. If you're ignoring, like a problem, and your body's like, hey, I'm going to tell you, by using pain, it will grow louder and louder. So in that sense, like, yes, pain you might get more intense and quote, worse. It may not necessarily translate to the same thing as your body getting worse.

Speaker 1:

Well, I think, because a lot of times what I'll see is, like you know, oftentimes, like you said, it doesn't start with a really severe injury at the, you know, especially with running. Running, most injuries that occur in running are repetitive use injuries, so they end up developing over time and so the body gives us these signals, you know, way earlier than we really want to pay attention to right, like we might start to get like that little twinge or that little ache or that little soreness that then becomes more painful and we're like, ah, so then we ignore it or we try to find the band aid solutions and just kind of manage it and just keep running through it, running through it, and then people wonder why they end up with a torn Achilles. And it's because they've been ignoring these signals for the past what six months, year, you know. And then they, the body, just ends up breaking down to the, to the point where it's now. It's actually broken, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Can definitely happen.

Speaker 1:

All right. Another one that you have on here that I like is the think positiver People that are just trying to have a positive mindset around it. Tell me a little bit more about that one.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think this one's interesting because there are so many people that I just have a positive mindset. Yeah, a positive mindset doesn't mean, it's kind of a little bit on the framework of like ignoring, like you're just like, I'm just thinking positive unicorns and rainbows all day long and you're, and nothing's ever like unicorns and rainbows and like it's. It's taken from these breakdowns through the whole pit of random parent of the video group. It's almost like trying to fake it. You know, like I'm happy, I'm happy, things are fine, things are good. When the pain is there, things are not fine for you. You're probably frustrated about it, but you're just like, if I just think positive, this thing will go away. Usually, people are bearing a lot of like the worries that they have of what this pain actually means, and then oftentimes I see people get frustrated too. They're like I feel like I'm a good person and I try to have a positive mindset. I don't understand why this is happening or why this isn't helping. Yeah, so it's. Yeah, it's a little bit of glossing over as well.

Speaker 1:

So someone that might hear you talk right about this mind-body connection and how chronic pain has these neural types of connections, right, that a lot of it is mental, not to say the pain's not real, right? Actually, we should probably talk about that too, right? Like when we talk about the pains in your head or the mental side of the pain or how there's this mind connection, that doesn't mean the pain's not real, like you're actually experiencing physical pain here, right. But they might think to themselves oh well, if my mind is controlling this, if I just think positive, then that should fix the issue. So tell me why that's not correct.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Do you want me to also talk about? The pain is not real. I would love you to. Okay, so I always let's go to that part first and then we'll go to the other thing. So I always tell people pain is 100% physical and it's 100% psychological, always, it's never one or the other.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's interesting. It's not 50, 50, it's 100, 100. Yes, always.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. And if we use an example of like an ankle sprain, right, so let's say someone's running around, they have an ankle sprain, your nerves may not produce pain at the time. If you have an ankle sprain and let's say you have to save a baby, chances are your nerves might run. The message of the brain to the brain is like, hey, you have to save a baby. This is a bigger problem, in which case it will actually not produce pain. You will not feel anything, even though you might have a sprained tissue or sprained muscles and joints.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean that's like what you see with people that are in crazy accidents or things like that, that like save other people even though they have a broken arm or broken leg or something crazy that they don't even feel or realize until after everything settles down, Exactly.

Speaker 2:

Your system is always doing triage what is the biggest danger, what is the biggest threat? And if it thinks that there's something more in priority, it will address that. And in order for you to address that threat, it will shut down those other signals. So your system has a choice Do I produce pain or do I not produce pain? Okay. So, that being said, again, pain is always physical and psychological. It needs to have both in order for things to be working properly. Okay, when we talk about pain being more on the end of psychological, it's after the tissues healed. Why is this nerve pathway still running and producing a pain loop? That's what we're thinking, more so because it's not as much tissue driven, which again is supported by the research. The question you had was why is this not true? You might have to wind me back a little bit.

Speaker 1:

I know, I'm just like listening to you talk, so and I'm like what was the original question? I asked her? But yeah, it was this idea of like pain is not just in your head, like that, there, you know it is. There is a physical aspect of pain. And then what was it that? I think we were talking about? The think positive, right? Like if I just think positive, then there's this mental aspect of pain. So if I just think positive, then that should make the pain go away. And why is that not correct?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, okay. So when I think about the think positive person, I think about conscious and subconscious. So for people who are listening, conscious brain is the stuff that you are aware of that you're thinking right. So the 5% of your brain. Now the rest of it, your entire system, is run by the subconscious stuff, the 95%. And a good example of this is, let's say, you're going to the pantry and you're trying to grab a sweet that you quote, should not have unquote. When you're reaching for that thing, your conscious thought is oh, I should not reach for this thing. Now, do you always listen to that thought? No, right, sometimes people are just like you know, I'm not screwed, I'm doing over it, I'm gonna have the cookie.

Speaker 1:

Right, I've got some really good chocolate chip cookies in my pantry right now. They are. They are hard to resist. Right, and like you know you should, I think that's I never tell myself I shouldn't because I've eliminated that word from the dictionary. Should and shouldn't are not helpful words.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly. And if we think about the think positive, your conscious brain might be thinking I'm thinking positive. It does not mean that the 95% of your subconscious brain isn't worried about that pain. Right, and remember, that's 95% of your brain. So what do you think is gonna win out? I'm gonna guess that one. Yeah, absolutely so, like I just like people to know that there are different things we're going on their mind. And just cause you're only aware of one of the things, or trying to force one issue doesn't mean all those other voices or those other thoughts aren't there.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so we often, as humans, what I'm hearing you say is that we try to think our way out of pain and that's only working on the 5% of our thinking that's conscious, but there's 95% of our thinking that's still happening in the background that we're not addressing.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

So then, how the heck do we address it Like? Because the way that you teach to actually address chronic pain is a very like mind, body type of model, right? So what do we actually do if we are, like, if I'm a runner that has chronic pain? What are some suggestions that you have for me?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I would wanna know a little bit about what kind of pain management style you have.

Speaker 1:

first, yeah, so it's a good thing. We just went over that. I know, right, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I would wanna know a little bit about that and I would also wanna look at kind of your backstory, like what exactly is your understanding of what pain is Like? Do you think you have an injury? How much of that injury is truly playing a part in the persistence of your pain? Have you looked at some of your more psycho, emotional factors? Have you looked at your diet? Have you looked at cross-training? How do you approach movement and exercise? Because if you are someone that pushes through pain, doesn't strength train which nobody on this podcast does, because you'll have to stand in for a while what are the missing pieces that are taking your nervous system, your body's ecosystem, out of balance?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, when I'm stressed, running helps to relieve my stress. So when I'm feeling really stressed, I just go out and run, and sometimes I run harder and sometimes I run longer, because that helps me deal with my stress.

Speaker 2:

Oh my gosh, I love this Because I literally just wrote a post about it, like a while ago, maybe a little bit ago, but I think that a lot of people try to use exercise as therapy. Mm-hmm, and while exercise can be really helpful for you know, getting out the energy, you know, helping you run off your rage, giving you good, positive hormones and endorphins and kaifelins, at the very end of it there was a reason why your stress was there, and if you're not actually processing through those problems, you're running, no pun intended, or actually pun intended, running away from your problems. You're not actually addressing your problems by running.

Speaker 1:

But it's easier for me to just go for a run. Yeah, I don't want to have to dig into all those problems.

Speaker 2:

Right, and so that's a choice that you're making. If that's a choice that you choose like you know, I don't want to solve my problems then essentially you're elevating this cycle where you're never going to get away and your system's going to keep speaking to you until you realize okay, this maybe isn't so good for me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but this sounds way too deep. Right, Like this sounds like. I do not want to start getting to that. Why are these problems and these stresses now affecting my running? Like they should stay over there in that little box? You know, that's my stress box over there. This is my exercise box over here. Why is my stress affecting me so much in my running now?

Speaker 2:

Would that we could right Actually compartmentalize that way.

Speaker 1:

Right. But this is how people think. Yeah, for sure. People think that, like, I've got these little boxes and it's like no, you are one whole person and all of it affects you, like your running affects the rest of your life. The rest of your life affects your running, because you are one human.

Speaker 2:

Right, absolutely. I have this example that I use. It's not quite on the end of stress, but so I play tennis and my colleague and I are playing tennis one day, and we're not particularly great tennis players, but we're decent and we decided, you know, what?

Speaker 1:

It's definitely better than me.

Speaker 2:

I'll guarantee that. So we're like you know what? Let's just like do a mental exercise while we're hitting back and forth, for every time we hit this ball over, we'll yell out an animal name beginning with the letter A Right. So it's like Aunt, eater, bear, you know, cat, whatever. That was fun, but as soon as we started doing that, we became more and more discoordinated, like our balance was off. The shots started flying other places and we're like what is happening? And because we can't compartmentalize, everything that we do is essentially energy, whether it's mental energy, emotional energy, whatever else. And because we were focusing so hard, trying to remember letters and remember animals, our brain was shifting all the energy towards thinking and there was not as much energy shifted towards, like the physical movement, coordination pieces. Yeah, and if you think about your system in that way, your stress levels will definitely impact how well you can run, whether it's faster, stronger or even like the duration, like all of that matters 100%.

Speaker 1:

And like this is the thing that I think that a lot of runners don't want to acknowledge, because it's much easier for us when we don't get the results that we want or when our runs aren't feeling good or we're kind of like in this, like negative place in our running quote unquote negative, right, where we're, just we feel slow or legs feel sluggish, things aren't feeling great. We want to look at, well, my training, right. Like clearly it's my plan's fault, like clearly I'm just not running enough, or maybe I need to add more speed work, or maybe I need to like they're trying to fix the plan instead of looking at what else is happening in my life. Like I have a friend that I run with frequently and there's a lot going on in her life right now and we do speed work with each other on Tuesdays and we'll finish a work, and she's like, oh, that just felt so much harder than it should have felt. Or like my legs were just dead today.

Speaker 1:

I'm like, girl, like what? Look, what else is going on in your life, you know? Like you've got all this other stuff piled on top of you, of course, it felt like that. And she's like no, no, no, it's not that it's like come on, of course it is, you know, and I think that we don't want to recognize that because it makes things more messy and it makes us have to look at things that are not easy to start dealing with. And I feel like running is the easy thing, right, like I can add more mileage, I can get new shoes, I can like come up with these things that improve that. But if you're not addressing the underlying things that are causing, you know, driving the subconscious beliefs that you've referenced, then how much better can we get?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's so true. I think you're right. Like because when I work with people, it's the physical stuff sounds easier to tackle because it's like something right in front of you. Maybe you can just like strength your way through it or stretch your way through it, and the bigger underlying things like emotional work is so hard, right, people don't want to touch that, especially if they have a history of trauma or things of that nature, and so they'd rather focus on the thing that seems like the quicker solve, the easier solve.

Speaker 1:

Which is actually funny, right, because if we actually think about this, the physical side is the harder thing. Why do it like the emotional side is just thinking and it's just writing or journaling or doing breath work or like some of these things that we can actually use to process some of the emotions and like coming face to face with that? That's if you think about, like, what exactly is hard? Right, like what is the definition of hard? Is it it is? It feels very hard to come up with that because it brings up a lot of things that most of us don't want to deal with on a regular basis, but dealing with those things and addressing them can make us so much stronger in some of these areas.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's. I would say like the running movement pieces are sometimes like the very top of the pyramid of things you want to address and then, at the very like, to lay the foundation for good, good running, good strength work, good whatever thing you're performing, you actually want to have like the sleep, the nutrition, all the lifestyle factors that are all like laying that groundwork so that you can be the top of that pyramid.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, I know, but so many people want to jump right to the top and figure out, you know, how should I fix my running form, or how should I do you know?

Speaker 1:

what shoes should I buy to make me one minute faster? But they're leaving so much on the table with their sleep and their nutrition and that basic foundation. Yeah, All right. So one last thing. I want to ask you if, in listening to this episode, if I finally acknowledge that, okay, yes, I am someone that does experience chronic pain, is it a good idea for me to keep running? Should I not run? What should I do about this idea that I have chronic pain?

Speaker 2:

So I would say one if your pain is predictable Okay In the sense that, okay, it only hurts with this thing, it doesn't seem to be affected by temperature, stress and other factors Then chances are hey, maybe you would appreciate working with Angie and other people, or for cross training and looking at some of these more kind of rehabilitative on a musculoskeletal level exercises Okay. However, if your symptoms happen to have more randomness to it, they're like they're always present, they're there, if you're sitting, standing and as well as irritated with movement, chances are you're ignoring some of these other factors. And that's when I would start to look at, just just to be aware of. Maybe be open to it depends on what framework and mindset you're in. But if you aren't already be open to looking at what am I doing nutrition-wise, what am I doing?

Speaker 2:

What does my life look like outside of my running? Is it a messy, Does it feel hard or does it feel easy? And there are some things that can be managed, obviously, externally. Should I change jobs? Should I change Blah, blah, blah, blah? Or if you know that your external circumstances can't change, then it's time to look at the internal stuff. How can I start to regulate my stress levels? How can I change what I eat to support what I'm doing in the environment that I'm in?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and it's not even that you can't change your external circumstances because we all can right Like we can all. If your job is stressful, you can quit your job, right, like you might not like the consequences, but you have that choice to quit your job. But it's you don't want to. I don't want to change my external circumstances. Like my job. I like my job even though it's stressful. Like I like what you know, the lifestyle it's providing for me or whatever benefits you're gaining from it. Or my marriage is stressful, but I don't want to change that either. I don't want to get divorced.

Speaker 1:

But, like you said, how can I start thinking about these things differently? How can I start approaching them differently so that I don't have the same stress response in my body? And if I can lower the stress response in the cortisol and the inflammation based on the way that I'm thinking about things, then that's likely going to help influence my chronic pain in a positive way. Yeah, absolutely, and I mean that's really what we do inside of our program too. It's like we really look at all of those factors about the mindset around it and the nutrition and the recovery and all of that, so that you can be the runner that you want to be, because it isn't. Running isn't an island that's one of the things I like to say is like, running is not an island. It's a part of who you are as a whole person. Yeah Well, this conversation has been so fantastic. Is there anything that you think that our listeners need to hear that we haven't talked about yet, or any final thoughts that you would like to leave us with?

Speaker 2:

I could go on, but I think that would open another podcast episode. I think just remembering, nothing works in isolation. Just like she said, it's not an island, your body's an ecosystem. Yeah, your body is dependent on one another, and that's also a good thing, because sometimes when I hear people they're like, oh my gosh, there's too much stuff to address, usually if you pick one thing, because it all has interconnectivity you can change a lot of other areas.

Speaker 1:

So if you do find someone that does have a lot of resistance coming up right, that like I do not want to open that can of worms, what's something small that you like to start people with, to kind of just start moving them in the right direction?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So if they don't want to open a can of worms, but they're open to education, I'm like you know what, just start reading about some of this stuff and that would be a really good place to be. Or if you're open to, if you're more scared about exploring some of the subconscious work, develop the mental skill to start to explore that, and that's as simple as breath work. Can you start to breathe in a different way to shift your nervous system from a fight or flight state to more of a normative like rest and recovery state? Okay, good.

Speaker 2:

So practice that.

Speaker 1:

So practice deep breathing, taking 10 deep breaths every day. Yeah, that's something to make a difference.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it can. I've seen some people are just you know what's really calming. I'm like, yes, if calming is the very first step of the pyramid of stuff we have to do for subconscious work thing, right, let's start there.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely so. Just bringing your nervous system down a level, right from that heightened state of where it is, where all the nerves and everything is just are going haywire, bringing it down a level is going to possibly then open them up to doing some of the deeper work Absolutely Very cool. Well, tani, thank you so much for all of your time and your knowledge and your insight and everything that you shared with us today. Where can our listeners connect with you if they want to learn more?

Speaker 2:

They can definitely connect with me on Instagram, which I think is in your show notes with the period.

Speaker 1:

That's the period Dr period Tani, which is T-A-W-N-Y dot cross with a K-K-R-O-S-S. Yeah, that's on Instagram.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, and I am also very active on Facebook. I do have a free Facebook community group. It's called gosh. It's a longer name, but if you find me on Facebook it should be. We'll link it in the show notes. Yeah, we'll link it in the show notes. It's a free community. It helps support people that are looking to thrive with chronic pain and other chronic conditions, and I think Angie has a fun workshop coming up next week.

Speaker 1:

I do, yes, you want to talk about that. Yeah, we have a workshop coming up. Tani is going to be our guest speaker inside the Academy, inside of our membership program. She's going to be giving us a more in-depth workshop to help us tackle some of these issues and give us some more actionable items that we can do to you want to talk a little bit about what your plan is for that?

Speaker 2:

I'm going to leave it a little bit of a secret. I want you to. No, there's definitely going to be some more mental skills, practice and emotional work. So very baseline level, beginner level of exploring mindset and subconscious work.

Speaker 1:

Love it, love it, yeah, and we are doing that workshop. That's our November workshop in the Academy. So if that's something that you're interested in and going a little bit deeper, you can join the Academy to get access to all of our monthly workshops and all of our programs and coaching and all that good stuff, and you can find those links in the show notes as well. So, tani, thank you so much for your time. This has been so fun and we will definitely talk to you again soon, yeah.

Speaker 2:

I love being here. Thank you for having me.

Exploring Chronic Pain in Runners
Lifestyle Choices and Pain Sensitivity
Different Pain Management Styles for Runners
Mind-Body Connection in Chronic Pain
Managing Chronic Pain
November Workshop in the Academy