The threat bucket is a powerful education tool for our clients here at Body Evolution. This idea or analogy of the threat bucket was gifted to us from Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health. It gives us the ability to help you understand variables that affect health, performance and pain. We know that the human body is complex and understanding things like pain are quite complicated. We can use this ‘threat bucket’ to help you understand this complexity in a simple way.
To help you understand the complexity of how different variables can have an affect on your well-being we will first start with the bucket. Let’s begin by drawing a bucket on paper or envision a bucket in your mind. The bucket represents the area (s) of your brain that receive information or inputs. This bucket has a spout near the top where information or outputs flow from the brain to the body.
Now it is important to understand what the brain’s PRIMARY role is…Survival. That’s right…your brain will do everything, at all costs, to keep you alive. This means that your performance or just simply your ability to move with ease can be interrupted if your brain is in a mode to survive. The interesting thing is that this survival mode can turn on and off. Think about it. Throughout your day there are stressors that happen from moment to moment and your brain has to determine if they are safe or unsafe. If the stressor is deemed unsafe, you can call it a threat. Now imagine each time you encounter a threat it adds to the threat bucket.
There are many factors and variables which could add to the threat bucket and each person will interpret whether they are safe or unsafe differently. Physical therapists can help identify some of these threats to help you get rid of them from your threat bucket. These threats include issues with your visual system, this is more than just how clearly you see things, and your balance system. You could imagine if you feel off-center when you move that might be a threat to your system. Your brain may consider an old injury to be a continued threat.
Physical factors are not the only thing the brain determines safe or unsafe. Emotional events or financial difficulties are also a threat. If you may not have money to buy groceries or you are in the middle of a strained relationship can contribute to the threat bucket. We don’t always have control over all the different variables in our lives, but the ones we do have control over we can empty from our bucket.
If the threat bucket keeps filling there will eventually be an output. The output is a way to let you know it is time to care of yourself. The cool thing is the body is designed to handle a tremendous amount of stress.
Many people experience pain as an output or decreased performance. One might experience high blood pressure, digestive issues, or even depression.
Our goal as physical therapists are to figure out how to reduce the inputs in the stress bucket. We can do that by helping you move better, improve nutrition, or even help you gain confidence with everyday aspects of your life (through our coaching program). We have the most control over helping you with your vision, balance, and movement strategies, but can work with you to improve nutrition or manage stress or get better sleep.
The idea is that we can work on all of those areas to help reduce the threats in your bucket to help you resolve your pain or movement issues. The more threats we toss out of the bucket the better your performance and overall health.
I hope the ‘threat bucket analogy gives you a better understanding your own personal health and how what you may do to improve it. If you are still having pain or mobility issues it would be a great idea to contact an expert who can help you figure what stresses are in your bucket and how best to empty them out before the bucket overflows.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.