What we’ll cover
Should you push through pain when execising?
Pain; we’ve all had it, we’ve all dealt with it and some of us are still experiencing it. As we enter the depths of winter, a lot of people are beginning to become re-acquainted with their dodgy knee, or tender hip which has seemingly been under control but sudden awaken as the brisk weather has set in. Chronic pain is defined as ‘pain which has persisted beyond regular tissue healing time’, typically more than 3 months. It can present as a reoccurring issue across a long period of time and can sometimes flare up with no rhyme or reason!
A really common question we get here at Malvern East Physiotherapy is; “I’m starting to get some pain during this exercise – does this mean I need to stop?” Physiotherapist Michael Scardamaglia investigates when you should and shouldn’t push through pain when exercising.
Naturally, our body’s defensive mechanism will tell us that we need to avoid anything that is perceived to be dangerous or damaging – but what if our system has become too good at its job? Pain does not always present proportionately to the damage to our body, which is why we will often encourage you to push through it a little. Interestingly, a study in 2017 actually compared the outcomes of those with chronic pain who pushed through painful exercise versus those who did not and found multiple benefits of exercising through that discomfort.
The first benefit was exercise induced analgesia, wherein the exercises you are doing actually provided a pain-relief effect after a certain amount!
The second benefit was a reduced overall sensitivity to pain, which relates to our nervous system’s ability to accurately represent tissue damage with a proportionate pain response.
The third and fourth were around fear of movement and fear of pain. It found that exposing ourselves to a little bit of pain and movement actually increased confidence around movement and exercising more without worrying about going backwards in their pain journey. This effect was two-fold as we all know general exercise such as walking, strength work and swimming provide other health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coincidentally; pain.
Overall, the evidence shows that whilst we may want to stop if we have some general aches and pains that have persisted for a while, the rewards far outweigh the risks. You CAN exercise safely and effectively even in the presence of pain without stopping for fear of exacerbating your ongoing issues and continue to kick goals along the way.
Our team at Malvern East Physiotherapy is able to tailor an exercise program and guide you through exercise that is not only safe but beneficial. Book online or call our team today.