Pain is a symptom. Symptoms are the feedback that the body generates when it faces problems with its delicate internal balance (homeostasis). Without symptoms like pain, thirst, nausea and fevers, it would be very difficult for us to maintain a healthy body in the same way that it would be hard to drive a car safely with no dashboard display.
Which Exercises Are Okay To Do If You Have Pain
There are so many frustrating ways that pain has to interrupt your ability to do the exercise you want and need. Many of us find that when we have back pain or hip pain certain lifting movements at the gym become a major trigger for episodes of pain. Niggly knee pain that comes in half way through a run can limit your enjoyment, limit your mileage or stop you running all together. Plantar fasciitis can often completely destroy your ability to walk comfortably let alone run and do gym work.
One of the questions we are most often asked at our clinic are which exercise to avoid. This is a very good question. The reason this is a good question is because you can easily cause major setbacks doing the wrong exercises. More people still get into trouble doing the right exercises in the wrong way:
When not to exercise
For the most part if you are recovering from a mild or stubborn ongoing pain you should be able to continue exercising. Often however we often do have people eliminate the exercises that cause them the most pain until they start feeling better. Eliminating pain triggering exercises for sufferers of hip pain and plantar fasciitis for eg. allows the inflammation to reduce in the effected area.
Usually we only like to limit people like this for a few weeks at most. People who keep going generally get better long term outcomes compared to people who stop all together; so we like to do everything we can to keep you in the game even when your sore.
Which exercises to NOT do
It would be impossible to write a list of the exercises that cant be performed by the full range of complaints but we can give you some guidelines.
Signs that an exercise may not be for you include …
Exercises that make you very sore for days after you perform them
Complex and /or heavy exercises early in your ‘return’ to exercise ****if you dont feel really sure about how to do an exercise properly or you don’t feel confident when doing it then it probably isn’t the one for you right now.
You are a back pain sufferer doing ‘core exercises’ at the gym without having had in depth coaching by a health professional or advanced PT. ***** If you have a bad back even learning very simple core exercises is a big job – not just something you can do from a sheet or from a 2 minute description of the exercise.
You are a back pain sufferer doing sit – ups .. if this is you PLEASE STOP !
You are a shoulder or neck pain sufferer doing wide grip pushing / pressing exercises at the gym. Or doing shoulder exercises without having lots of coaching on form.
The Good News
The happy truth is that it is very rare that we should need to stop exercising for any real length of time with most pain complaints. The other good news is that there is almost no exercise that is off the menu long term…. except maybe sit-ups .. sit ups are dumb .. you heard it here first.
If you are committed to learning how to do them gently / skilfully enough and building from there most of the exercises that used to hurt you will eventually heal you. The key ingredient is getting the help you need in the early chapters so that you can figure out what isn’t working for you on the long haul so that you can do your own fine tuning over time.
We are rapidly heading toward a world where the vast majority of stubborn back pains, hip pain, knee injuries, ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis are a thing of the past. Don’t forget once upon a time EVERYONE had severe tooth decay by they were in their 30’s and we got past that. The way we are going to get there is by gently and persistently learning about what causes our pain one tip at a time… and today’s tip was to get as much help as you can around knowing WHICH exercises to do and HOW best to do them.
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John is one of those rare gentlemen who has continued to play competitive soccer well into his late 50s. He is in really good shape, which you need to be to play football at that age—good shape except for his left leg. His left leg is not in good condition at all. In fact, once you get to know his left leg a bit better, it becomes apparent that it’s miraculous that he’s able to run at all, Let alone the type of running required to play competitive soccer against younger men.