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Exercising Through Pain

“The pain will go away on its own”

“If I just stop going to the gym, it will get better”

“No pain, no gain” “Pain is weakness leaving the body”


I hear statements like these from friends, family, fellow CrossFit athletes and patients all the time. Maybe you’ve caught yourself thinking or saying this yourself.


The truth is, our bodies have an amazing ability to heal. Have you ever had a callous rip during a workout? Within a week, it is usually all healed up, right? Does that stop you from coming into the gym and working out the next day. Nope, you just slap some tape on it, put on your grips and move on.


When it comes down to it there really isn’t much difference at the cellular level between a callous and the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and cartilage in the rest of your body. Our bodies are continuously repairing and healing, just at different rates depending on the extent of the injury and the tissue or bone affected.





“So you are saying the pain will go away on its own?”


Yes and No. The injured tissue will heal over time, but oftentimes it can be more sensitive or weakened if not properly loaded during this healing period. This can lead to pain lasting even after the tissue issue has been resolved.


A skilled physical therapist can help you learn how to modify your workouts, load the tissue early and progressively and prevent complications down the road when you try to jump back into CrossFit classes or activity. This means that you can come back from your injury stronger than you were prior to your injury.


“What if I just stop going to the gym or doing the activity that aggravates my injury?”


Here’s the deal. There is nothing inherently bad about the activity that is aggravating your injury. Our bodies are meant to do all kinds of activities and be in all types of postures. Sure, we want to pause on the activity that is making symptoms worse. But only for a limited time, in order to let the tissue heal. This does not mean stop being active.


It is way more important that you continue being active for your CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH and in order to stave off chronic disease. Not a single person is dying from low back pain or shoulder pain, but shockingly 70% of the world IS DYING FROM CHRONIC DISEASE. A skilled physical therapist can help put the fire out on your pain all while keeping you active in doing the things you love.


Be wary of doctors and even physical therapists (eek! I said it!) that tell you to stop doing an activity or tell you that you WILL NEVER or SHOULD NEVER do “xyz” again. That’s just messed up and most of us wouldn’t listen to them anyway. I know if a doctor told me not to CrossFit again, I would laugh in his face. Actually, I would probably smile politely and walk out that door and never go back again.


“No pain, no gain” “Pain is weakness leaving the body”


If I had a dollar for every time I heard one of these statements, I would be in the top 10% richest people in the world (or at least have some sort of cushy retirement fund). I want to preface this with the idea that being in pain can be valuable to us because we can learn from our pain.


We can identify the primary source of pain and get to the root of it, and then give you a toolbox of self-treatments in order to heal your body and keep you out of the doctor’s office if a similar episode were to happen in the future.


But when we get into these painful episodes we need to identify what is off and what got you into this predicament in the first place. Usually it is one of two things. You are doing TOO MUCH TOO SOON and your body has not adapted to that activity.


You are essentially OVERLOADING your tissues and tissues don’t like that. OR your lifestyle habits are off: poor sleep, diet, high stress levels, overall body inflammation. These things need to be discovered and addressed or you just keep adding fuel to the fire. If a change isn’t made, you run the risk of further injury or you end up turning this acute episode of pain (short period of pain) into chronic pain (long period of pain).



Contact Kira at kira@physio412.com or (412) 527-4331 to learn more about how you can put out the fire on your pain and stay active through injury.


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