By Lauren Dobson
There is an old saying knocking around that goes: ‘No Pain, No Gain’.
Regrettably, some athletes misinterpret this and believe it means that any uncomfortable sensation can be worked through.
Pushing through fatigue, muscle soreness and muscle pain is one thing. Understanding how hard to push yourself without causing any problems, is another.
Muscle soreness is often the result of hard work and training. Pain however, indicates a problem that needs to be corrected and examined to prevent further issues.
Many enthusiasts push continuously, compete and train into pain. They don’t listen to their bodies’ warning when something is wrong.
I have been a culprit of this myself, as a sportswoman I wanted to play, train, improve. I thought that nobody could stop me.
Now I know different and you won’t catch me pushing into pain anymore.
Pain is annoying and frustrating but unfortunately it is a signal that something isn’t right.
So what is pain trying to tell you?
You have poor form, poor technique, you didn’t warm up correctly, there is a muscle imbalance, something isn’t working in harmony, you aren’t producing enough energy for the activity, your muscles are underdeveloped or… you are just doing too much. Pain has a lot to say for itself and knowing what is the cause is always the hardest part.
Pain is not necessarily the enemy so use it to your advantage. With this in mind, it may allow you to re-consider a number of factors such as technique, warm-up, hydration, nutrition, training workload and footwear. Sometimes these changes may give you an insight to your problem and some tips on how to avoid pain. Listen to what it is telling you.
If there is already evidence of inflammation, swelling and irritation, technique changes are not what you need. Inflamed structures (muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments) need some tried and trusted treatment.
The ‘RICE’ method – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. But the detail is important so is it trauma or micro trauma and how much rest is required? Also, what’s the next step?
That’s where a therapist comes in handy and can assess, treat and manage your recovery to return to sport. It’s very common for athletes to ignore the initial issue. Coming from a sporting background myself, it is clear why that is the case. All we want to do is play, right?
But awareness of why pain is occurring is everything. Believe it or not, issues causing it don’t just disappear and are highly likely to progress into something worse or recurring. For example, tight and weak muscles can lead to poor joint alignment, and when joints are not aligned they are not supportive and do not communicate effectively. What happens then?
Joints talk to the brain and so do muscles. Joints and muscles also talk to each other. When one or the other goes silent, the brain doesn’t receive or prepare your structures to act and react.
Understanding this is what will make you a better athlete than others. Understanding pain will allow you to reach your maximum performance, set higher goals and have more play time – not injury time.
Understanding why you feel pain will help you. Making sure you do the right thing as a result is what will set you apart from others.
Like this? Try reading this – Blog: Why a Good Warm-up Is Crucial for Performance