I love it when a plan comes together

Here is an email I got from Rebecca Erlewein.  I love stories like hers because they show an impressive degree of self-awareness and they reveal, first hand, what I reckon is going on in the brain of many people who being to understand how complex pain REALLY is, and how complex we REALLY are, and how GROOVY the whole thing is…..Anyway, here are her pearls of wisdom. Thanks Rebecca….

Dear Mr Moseley,

I have recently enjoyed reading your Explain Pain and Painful Yarns book and have benefitted greatly from it in terms of managing my own chronic / recurring butt and leg pain (which first appeared three years ago without any physical injury but plenty of emotional stress).

The reason I’m writing to you is that I’ve found a neat application of the theories presented in your book which may be of interest to you and your patients / students.

I often get a brief onrush of (strong) pain a few seconds after changing a position or mode of movement in which I’ve been for a while, e.g. getting up from sitting, or shifting weight after sitting for a while, or beginning walking after standing for a while. So bearing in mind the theory that the brain signals DANGER, I thought that maybe my brain somehow was getting freaked out about the change, and, just in case this really is dangerous, signaled pain.

Thus, I began simply talking to my brain in my thoughts what was happening, so that it’d know and feel less reason to freak out. My internal dialogue (monologue?) goes a bit like this: “OK, brain, I’m getting ready to stand up from sitting now, I’m standing up now. I’m standing now, I’m beginning to walk now, I’m walking now.”

And you’ll probably not be surprised to hear that I am getting much less pain. Initially I was still getting quite a strong “sensation” in the same spots that previously were painful, but not pain as such. And even the strong sensation has started to go down now.

I hope this is of use for you.

Kind regards,

Rebecca Erlewein

Rebecca practices acupuncture in Wellington, New Zealand.


  1. this is great stuff, and she is a courageous person. She has shown in a real life example how appraisal mediates (like a conduit) but also moderates (reduces harm of) the connection between movement and the experience of pain.

    I sit here now with my legs feeling tired, thinking “my legs will be better off if I don’t run tonight”. In addition to this faulty belief I’ve also found an excuse for my laziness (it is raining here in brisbane dam it) so i’ve now got a justification to help ease my conscience. But now I think……..”stuff it. If someone with real pain (like rebecca) can get back into movement by reapprasing and then re-exposing themselves to movement, then I can too”. I’m off for a run.

    brisbane australia