Don’t Ignore Pain When Working Out

Its summer and everyone is working extra hard to look their best. On top of that there are all those outdoor activities to be partaking in right ?! Absolutely, but make sure you are achieving those goals in the most effective way possible.

As a PT who specializes in orthopedics and musculoskeletal injury, I cringe when I hear the phrase ‘No Pain No Gain’. I wish it would change to something more like ‘No Grit No Pain’ or maybe ‘No Push No Gain’ but that isn’t as catchy.

The reality is that the human body is a very versatile, tenacious machine. It will find a way to make movement happen one way or another. It will always find the path of least resistance and do that very thing PTs hate….it will compensate. This means your body will recruit extra muscles normally not involved in a particular movement. It will expend extra energy and utilize more joints to perform an activity. All the while you are unaware and keep on doing that said movement….pain free.

Our bodies are great at adapting, and they will adapt for a long time to this new, yet inefficient expenditure of energy. When your body can no longer compensate because it has reached the point of being taxed, it will alert inflammatory mediators to the taxed tissue (muscle, tendon, bone, etc). THIS is when you feel pain. THIS is when your body is saying “I’ve done what I can, now you should stop because something is wrong.” Most people feel pain and think it’s the beginning of something not working properly, but actually pain is the LAST symptom in the line of prior biological sequences.

So what happens when the ‘No Pain No Gain’ mentality makes you keep pushing? You introduce excessive strain to an injured tissue and continue the vicious cycle of inflammation. This ultimately leads to soft tissue tears or even bony fractures. Pain during exercise should lead you in 2 directions.

  • Rest, stop, or modify the activity so that it can be done pain free
  • Seek professional medical advice to help address the underlying cause and treat it effectively.

Active people like to be just that, active. So most of them do not want to stop exercising or slow down their activity. This is when seeking the advice of a PT is crucial to maximizing one’s performance. A PT is a healthcare professional trained in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries. They can perform a comprehensive evaluation, and after assessing your health history, signs/symptoms and movement patterns, can develop an individualized program for you to correct any faulty movement patterns. They can help you achieve your functional goals for return to sports, work, exercise, and the activities you enjoy.

You wouldn’t keep driving on a flat tire or keep pulling on a frayed rope… don’t push your body in the presence of injury either. Listen to what it’s trying to tell you!

If you find yourself in this situation, contact us for a FREE injury screen!