Mar 2017 18


By: Dave Wheeler

I guess that we all know that physical pain means that we've hurt ourselves. 

When we stub our toe, sensory nerve fibres are stimulated which send signals to the spinal chord which is the hub of the nervous system. A reflex action occurs with signals being sent to immediately remove the toe from the source of  pain.

So the function of pain is to get us to retract ourselves from whatever  is damaging the body. 

Once the source of pain has been removed, the body can begin the process of healing.

So much for the theory - here are a couple  of examples.


The Iron Man Competitor

My eldest son damaged his knee during overtraining for an Iron Man recently. He had accute  pain on the inside of his knee, which might well have been the Medial Cruciate Ligament. He 'phoned me and I told him to rest for at least 10 days. In the event he rested for a couple of days:the pain subsided but still felt a bit sore.

He decided to "man up" and go  for a training run, only to have to abandon it at mile 3 because the pain returned.

After another 'phone call which mostly consisted of me saying, "I told you so" (I'm that sort of person), he decided to rest until his knee felt completely better. After 3 weeks of no running, cycling or swimming, he was stir crazy, but his knee was much better.

At the end of the 3 weeks rest, he went on a 60 mile bike ride on the Saturday and then ran the Coventry Half Marathon the following day with a PB of under 2 hours.

Far from affecting his fitness, listening to his body and obeying the pain messages gave  him  time to repair completely.

If the function of pain is to  stop us doing what hurts  us,  it  worked.


The skier

A close friend of mine, that I've known for more than 30 years (I know, I know, you wouldn't think I was that old from  looking at me, would you?) damaged his ankle running.

It was so much "painful" as just "sore".

He had  a ski trip coming up and didn't want to take any chances,  so he rested from  running for 2 weeks. Given that he was going to be in ski  boots which would fix his  ankle, this was probably about right in terms of  giving his ankle the rest  it needed  to heal sufficiently.

He had a great skiing holiday until he damaged his knee on a fall!


Sport Massage and Pain

So if pain is an indicator that  you should stop what you're doing, does that mean that I should stop when it hurts in the treatment room?


There are 2 main reasons for this:

  1. If I stopped hurting you, how would I get my fun?
  2. Pain, or at least the right sort  of  pain, is used during certain types of sports massage treatment (especially neuro muscular techniques) to disrupt the central nervous system to force it to  "reset". You'll know the "good pain"  from the bad.

So sometimes Sport Massage can be painful. If your  muscles are hypertonic (whether it's shoulders, calves or anything in between) then getting them  back in good condition may well hurt a bit.

As ever, if  you think I can help, give me a call.