When is pain OK??!
“No pain, no gain” is the stoic attitude of some of our patients, many people coming in with the belief that physio “has to hurt” to get better. There may be an element of truth in this but some people take it to the extreme and make themselves so sore it is hard to get better. On the flip side, some people are so afraid of reproducing pain that they don’t do enough to strengthen their muscles.
The first thing to remember is that pain is an individual experience. You may have the exact same injury as someone else yet be experiencing different levels/locations of pain. Why is this?? Because pain is NOT a direct indication of tissue damage – it is your body’s alarm system telling you that there is danger of POTENTIAL damage. You can have pain WITHOUT any damage to your bones, joints or soft tissues. You can also have real damage (arthritis, damaged tendons, tears) without having ANY pain.
So what does this mean in terms of exercise?
Just because pain doesn’t always equal damage doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Sometimes pain is there to protect from potential damage – for example at the early stages of a knee cartilage tear there is acute swelling and pain. This is when pain is useful to help us from causing more cartilage damage; However the same pain 4-6 weeks down the line is actually not helpful – at this stage that injured area of knee actually needs to learn to be gradually loaded again. The pain at this stage can stop the person from performing certain movements of the knee which causes them to get weaker, stiffer and more protective of the knee which leads to a chronic cycle of knee pain. One of the most important things GOOD physios will do is to help you really understand your pain and when to push through and when to ease off. Once you have mastered this then often there are very few limits to what you can achieve.
Certain types of pain are OK at the right time
So, in short, if an exercise reproduces your sharp/intense or ongoing pain, you need to adapt what you are doing (that’s are job to help guide this process – don’t just become inactive). Making it less painful may be as simple as using a lighter weight, or moving in a smaller range of motion, OR it may mean changing the exercise to work the muscles and joints in a different way.
Exercise has helped a bit but I’m still sore
Yes, this is a common thing we find as experienced physios. Many clients come to us having had some physio in the past, they were given some exercises OR they have looked some exercises on youtube and felt they improved a bit but still had issues. This happened to Gail Taylor (and many other clients – see Gail’s story here…) Gail had been to physio and improved a bit but still couldn’t walk for much distance (and she LOVED to walk!). Immediately we were able to see why Gail hadn’t improved – the exercise weren’t quite right for her problem and they also weren’t being monitored OR progressed (everything has to move forwards and progress to help you achieve your goals).
I tried physio before and it didn’t help
Again – we get this a lot. A lot of clients come to us having had failed treatments in the past (Like Gail Taylor…) yet they do great when they come to us. We don’t do anything magical but what we do present a common sense approach and explanation for what is going wrong. In addition to that we will help relieve your pain which then helps with your ability to get moving again.
Everything we do is 100% tailored to you and your needs and all led by a group of extremely experienced physiotherapists who love to help people like you with similar problems day in day out.
Come and meet one of our team by requesting one of our limited Free Taster Sessions if you’re fed up of putting up with your pain.