Pain – Understanding what we all want to Avoid.

We spend most of our lives trying to avoid pain, and when it does come along we don’t really know what to do with it.

As an athlete you need to have a good understanding of pain.

Pain is your inbuilt alarm system. It serves to warn you that something is wrong. Pain, therefore, is not the enemy. pain

Your nerves and spinal cord form an electrical communication system. If you get a splinter in a finger, nerves in that area will report what has just happened to your brain and your brain then interprets those signals as pain. This then forces you to do something about your situation.

 Some important points for athletes:

– There is good pain and there is bad pain.
You need to learn how to tell the difference between the two.
Good pain includes quads screaming in pain as you pedal hard up a road. Lungs burning as you do intervals.
Bad pain is normally more specific. It might include a specific point on your muscle that is hurting, or pain around a joint.

Some hopefully helpful points:

– Try to memorize where the pain is as you do your exercise. I have had a number of people here who have complained of knee pain while cycling or running and then can’t remember where the pain was. Run with a pen if necessary, mark the area, and take a cell phone pic. The more accurately you can pinpoint the pain the better. Human beings have an amazing ability to forget pain. Your mother’s ability to forget about pain is one of the reasons that you are here, should you have an older brother or sister.

– Realize that your area of pain might not necessarily be where the actual issue stems from. Your lower back might hurt because your hips are not working properly. Your jaw is linked to your foot.
Deep-Front-Line1In fact, your jaw is linked to almost every muscle. Open a tight jar of mayonnaise and watch your jaw clench as it compensates for a muscle that is not up to the task.

– Ask the following question – Are you in pain because of an area of weakness, or has an area of weakness caused you to habitually compensate and thus move badly.

– Take painkillers and anti inflammatories responsibly.
Both come with inherent dangers. Chat to your pharmacist or GP for guidance on this. The big thing here is not to use a painkiller so that you can continue training or racing.  Ignoring an alarm does not signify that you are out of danger.
In my mind you need to do all you can to avoid cortisone. We have had athletes go to a doctor just before a race to get a jab and I understand their logic. At that stage they have invested too much on the race at hand and want to complete it. However, you need to commit after that to sorting your issue out. You also need to check that the medication prescribed does not constitute a performance enhancing drug.

In closing:
Attack the pain holistically. You need to find the cause. I spend my life searching for clues in this regard.
You might need to go the RICE route. Thats, Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation.
Realise that the pain site and actual problem area might be different.
Make use of modalities such as myofascial release, mobility bands, dry needling, stretching, strengthening exercises and kinesiology tape to help you recover.

Give me a call if I can help.


Mike Roscoe.
Mike Roscoe

About sbrsport

SBR Sport specialises in Swimming, Biking and Running. On the medical side we are able to do intensive bike setups, leg assessments and soft tissue release. - and/or facebook -
This entry was posted in Injury File, Trigger Points & Massage, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.