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What Is Somatic Tracking, and How Can It Help My Pain?

This excerpt is taken from an episode of the "Tell Me About Your Pain" podcast. You can listen to the full episode below, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts


Alan and Alon introduce somatic tracking, the most effective technique they’ve found for overcoming chronic pain. Somatic tracking teaches your brain to reinterpret signals from your body through a lens of safety, thus deactivating the pain.

Alan talks to Stephen (chronic back pain), Amber (fibromyalgia), and Felicia (chronic neck pain). Alan guides each of them through somatic tracking exercises, helping them to neutralize their fear and alleviate their symptoms. Then, Alan and Alon break down the different components of somatic tracking, and explain how you can use this technique to eliminate your own pain.

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Alon: Steven, who always has back pain when he sits and it always gets worse the longer he sits, was able to sit and actually make his pain go down instead of going up by using somatic tracking. Walk us through that. What exactly were you guys doing?

Alan: First of all, he didn't make his pain go down. Every time in the past Steven has paid attention to his pain, he’s done it with a sense of fear, frustration, despair. He was trying to get rid of it, trying to make it go away, trying to avoid it. And that all reinforces to the brain that it's actually dangerous, and it keeps it alive. So what he did here today for the first time was he paid attention to his pain while simultaneously being in a positive emotional state.

Alon: Honestly it seemed like you guys were having fun. I think you could hear it in his voice as you guys were talking back and forth and as he was describing his pain - it wasn't coming from a place of fear. He didn't sound tense and he didn't sound scared. It was kind of matter of fact.

Alan: We were talking about objectively watching this sensation from a place of detached curiosity, but it's really hard to do that if you think that the pain is indicative of some sort of structural problem. In fact, in the clip earlier before we started recording, Steven said that whenever he felt the pain he was imagining his spine grinding.

Alon: And this is exactly what we talked about in our last episode - these kinds of narratives that pain sufferers tell themselves, how those feed into the fear and then the fear keeps the pain alive. So it's really important to accept and believe that there's nothing wrong with your body, and that's how you can break that cycle of fear.

Alan: When you're able to pay attention to the sensation knowing that it isn't indicative of any kind of structural damage, it frees you up to pay attention to it through this authentic lens of curiosity and interest. So Stephen was paying attention to the sensation through this lens of curiosity. We were constantly reinforcing that it’s actually a safe sensation. We were having fun. We were making jokes. And all of a sudden he was interpreting the sensation through a different lens, through a lens of safety.

[this is an excerpt only - for the full episode, listen to the podcast above]

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