How to Manage Pain vs. Discomfort When Exercising
Aaron Hines recalls exactly when the pain began.
It was around 10 years ago that Hines, now 36, a former college football player and personal trainer, was doing a hard bench press with a friend.
Hines recalls that “as the bar fell, I started to feel a burning in both my left elbow.”
Although he tried to ignore the pain, over the next few years he felt more “chipping” and “grinding” in his elbow. He couldn’t move the elbow beyond 45 degrees because of the pain and limited range of motion.
Hines continued to work through the pain, just like many other Americans. According to a national survey by Orlando Health, a top trauma and children’s hospital in Florida, Hines still chose to continue to do so. Nearly one in five Americans (18%) experience pain when exercising. The same percentage of people continue to work through pain rather than resting to heal.
No Pain, No Gain There is no way
The Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Institute says that identifying the root cause of pain is key to feeling better. New advancements in medicine and surgery offer many options. It can make the situation worse and increase the need for surgery.
“No pain, no gain” is a common saying. But, there are different types of pain you can feel during exercise. And, sharp, stabbing pain that is very uncomfortable is not normal,” states George Eldayrie MD, a Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic institute sports medicine doctor. You can make the problem worse by pushing through.
Hines was aware of the source of his pain: that day at the bench press.
He kept putting off seeing the doctor. He was not interested in having surgery, could not afford to miss work, but he didn’t want it to be done.
A few years back, it all came to an end when a young client stumbled upon him.
Hines claims that Hines’ arm “popped.” It was an agonizing pain.
He had no other choice. The doctor took X-rays of the elbow and said that it looked like it belonged to an 80-year old man.
Is it Pain or Discomfort?
Hines states that surgery has made a significant improvement in pain relief and range of motion. Hines is also more aware of the discomfort his clients may be experiencing when they are in pain. This might be part of the deal, but it is not.
This is the balance that everyone who trains and exercises regularly seeks. These solutions can be individualized. What may be uncomfortable for one person could be a source of extreme pain for another.
We all have different levels and levels of commitment. Some may stop at the first sign that something is wrong, while others push on until they fall every time.
Paulo Andalaft, a trainer at Fit Factor in Fort Lauderdale (FL), says that not knowing the difference can lead to danger.
“Trainers must ask clients where their pain is located – is it joint, or muscle?” He also asks, “What is the pain level?” Fitness professionals shouldn’t allow clients to feel pain or discomfort until they are more familiar with their limitations. It is safer to modify or regress a movement or exercise than to risk aggravating injury.
Lyndsey Wright, from Action Figure Training, Decatur, GA, just outside Atlanta, said she’ll work out through chronic pain if it becomes worsened by lack of exercise.
She says, “But, I train around pain more than through it.” Inactivity can make many things worse. If the pain is temporary and easily explained, No.
Steven Craig Bryan, Peak Performance Fitness, Evans, GA says that he uses a variety of techniques to ease the pain of clients – “scraping,” cupping, vibration platform and stretching.”
Other options include physical Therapy to strengthen, stretch, or shots to reduce inflammation.
“There’s Always Something You Can Do”
“Rehabilitation can be a powerful tool but it’s important that a professional can really pinpoint the correct diagnosis so a therapist may develop a treatment plan targeted to the right area,” states Eldayrie from Orlando Health. “Platelet rich plasma has been proven to be effective in treating chronic [tendon conditions] such as golfers or tennis elbow. It works best if it is administered early, before the injury progresses.
According to Orlando Health’s survey, many people avoid having pain exams, just like Hines. This is because they don’t want surgery and a long recovery. Many people enjoy exercise every day or consider it part of their identity so they don’t want to miss any.
Hines states that “I waited too much, and it just kept going downhill from there.” “I am stubborn and hardheaded so it was not going to happen” until it became essential.
He now helps clients who are in pain to focus on other parts of their bodies, rather than using a twisted ankle to get on the couch forever.
He says, “There’s always an opportunity to do something.”
This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At Apex performance we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of one of the best gyms in Tampa, small group classes and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training and body goals!