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Training with Pain

What happens when you are in the middle of a training session or just starting a run and one of your body parts starts to hurt?

DO you push through and ignore it? OR do you retreat back into the comfort of your home?

Hopefully after reading this blog, you will have a few more ideas on what to do in the future.

Let’s start by defining pain. Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.

Now the main message from this definition that should soak in is that pain is not just about damage. Thus, you can have pain with damage, no pain with lots of damage and lots of pain with minimal damage. For example, you can pinch your skin and it hurts like buggery, but you have no damage, or you can find bruises on you without even remembering how they got there.

In knowing this, we use a traffic light system for those currently suffering or returning from injury. The earnest is on yourself to self-evaluate pain levels during and after exercising (both after you finish and 24-48 hours post exercise). It’s important you don’t have an increase in morning stiffness on the next day, if there is, you should think back to what you did yesterday and be conscious of differences in training e.g. did you do anything differently, did you run an extra 2kms?

Pain During Exercise

0 = No PAIN, 10 = Worst Pain You’ve Experienced

6 – 10


4 – 5

Proceed with Caution

0 – 3

Safe Zone

Your body is designed to adapt and change in response to stress and sometimes it is OK to feel discomfort when returning to activity. If it increases to 4 or 5/10 pain levels, then you can modify your activity to get back into the safe zone. Some examples of this include:

- If you are running and have pain – change the running surface (move to flat ground or off the sand) or modify running style (reducing stride length)

- If you are swimming and have pain – swim shorter times or modify stroke lengths

All this information helps you understand YOUR body better. YOU are the person who feels what your body is doing and now you have the right information that will help guide you whilst exercising with pain.

Written by Matthew Matson, B.Sc (Physiotherapy)

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