Tuesday, January 3, 2017

"Doc, It Hurts When I Do This"

"Doc, it Hurts When I Do This"

Everyone has heard this old joke; the doc says "Then don't do that."

Here's another old joke:

A coach asks a group of lifters " How many of you suffer from shoulder pain?". Half the group raises their hand. The other half can't.

I published an article back in 2015 that you should read again HERE about good pain vs. bad pain. But we need to take the subject a step farther. 

No pain-no Gain is bunk but a lot of people grew up with that mantra ingrained in their brain and think they should push through the pain. 

First, learn the difference between pain and discomfort. All forms of fitness will (or should) result in some discomfort whether it  is caused from the buildup of metabolic by-products in the muscle (the "burn") or shortness of breath when running or feeling like your heart is beating so hard it's going to burst your ear drums. Without pushing your body to discomfort there is no progress.

Pain, on the other hand, is not a desirable outcome. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong.

If you get a pain signal and do nothing about it your body will increase that signal until you are forced to. In addition, the longer you force that signal to get louder the more that particular neural pathway gets optimized to signal pain. 

The reinforcement of that pathway has lasting effects. Even after the the inflammation is gone and the injury has healed the neural pathway is super-sensitized to respond to signals from the brain. Had a  super stressful day? How's that old shoulder injury ?

That super-sensitized pathway will also interrupt muscle firing patterns, which also means screwed up progress long after the injury has healed.

If you experience pain (not just discomfort) here are some suggestions:

  1. Stop what you're doing
  2. Try the move with reduced speed
  3. If that doesn't work, try the move with reduced load
  4. If reduced load doesn't work, try a shorter range of motion
  5. If you still have pain, try a different movement that doesn't create pain.
  6. If you can't do the movement without pain, stop all together and give the area time to heal.
 Before starting that movement again after allowing time to heal go through the above steps again to test the area.

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