As safe and productive as strength training can be, there’s no one who trains for a long time—and to a meaningful extent—without accruing some bumps and scratches along the way. While our coaching staff dedicates a great deal of its energy towards the development of resiliency and prevention of injury, we also provide high-quality resources for athletes post-injury, helping them get back to their prime.
Whereas the average trainee in the commercial gym down the street might ignore the injury and drive it further into the ground—or cease training altogether—our athletes receive meaningful assessments and actionable strategies for continuing to make gains while addressing emergent pain.
The truth is, ignoring a problem will certainly lead to larger and more serious injury. Many times, an injured lifter may abandon a movement pattern (or even their entire fitness routine altogether), losing everything from their body composition to their habit of fitness and more… only to still end up just as injured in the end. In this article, we lift the veil on some of Boston Barbell’s internal protocols for navigating these critically fragile moments in one’s training career.
Okay, but am I really injured?
Pain, injury, aches, etc. are a complex topic of debate in the world of physical training and medicine. Some of the world’s most brilliant minds have dedicated their lives to furthering our understanding of these topics, and even THEY have yet to put forth an enduring framework for understanding the relationship between pain and injury.
There are three important facts to remember throughout this article:
- We at Boston Barbell are not medical professionals.
- You are not a medical professional.
- You’re reading an article on the internet, not your individualized diagnosis.
So, everything we will discuss here can be considered a resource, but with serious limitations in your unsupervised application. Our hope is that by giving you a glimpse into our critical thinking methods, we’ll get you moving in the right direction while giving you hope for a complete recovery through helpful strategies and resources.
The relationship between injury and pain is complicated. For example, It’s possible to have substantial disc herniation and live a completely asymptomatic life.
In fact, 40% of adults over the age of 40 have some form of disc degeneration, yet only a percentage of them experience pain. It’s also possible to experience chronic pain at a joint while exhibiting no detectable injury in medical imaging or professional assessment. How one experiences pain is highly individual and complicated, as is one’s path out of pain.
With these two facts taken as a whole, we must accept that the occurrence of clinically diagnosable injury and recorded pain do not always go hand in hand. This means you can’t always know for sure that you are injured. But, if you’re experiencing pain, it’s time to start taking steps to recovery.
Pain and rehab
There are three major issues to address when trying to understand and move past pain: mobility, technique, and programming. Assessing your mobility may reveal shortcomings in a joint’s movement that could have led to or are leading to a maldistribution of load, resulting in pain.
Secondly, whatever mobility you have or don’t have at a joint will be limited by the technical motor control you have in utilizing this joint during loaded movement. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly: It’s not just your ability to move that’s important—it’s how well, how hard, and how often you do it. In other words, regardless of your joint’s range and your control over it, are you moving it with appropriate stress and exposure to foster healthy recovery?
Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we’ll explore how to regain pain-free movement through programming targeted at injury rehabilitation and prevention.