Let’s just shoot straight, being in pain SUCKS! And the last thing you feel like doing when you’re in pain is to workout. But you also don’t want to sit around watching the waistline grow because you feel pain doing “xyz.”
So how do we get around the pain?
Well first, have some sort of screening process completed by a Movement Specialist to find all the movements that elicit your pain symptoms. Personally, I use the Functional Movement Screen and highly recommend the entire system.
Once the screen is complete, go get whatever it is causing you pain checked out by a medical professional. Yes, physical therapy may ensue and that might cost you some time in the therapist’s office. But trust me, it’ll save you time in the long run when you’re not on an operating table having your joint taken out and replaced with plastic.
The second step is simple, after we figure out which movements cause you pain, don’t do that. Here is a typical conversation with a typical client in pain:
Client: “My knee hurts!”
Coach: “Your knee hurts right now?”
Coach: “Well, when does it hurt?”
Client: *Proceeds to enter awkward looking positions to cause himself unnecessary pain because he could have just said, ‘when I squat’*
Coach: “Ok, don’t squat till we get that checked out, we’ll work on some other movements.”
Client: “Oh if I just warm up enough I can squat still, let’s try to max it out today!”
Coach: *Grabs Tylenol for headache*
That pain you feel isn’t your body saying, “Please warm up till I don’t feel like I’m being stabbed in the knee anymore.” Pain is your body’s signal saying, “Not within comfort zone, avoid.” So please, LISTEN!
This doesn’t mean you can’t workout, even if you require some time in therapy. It just means some movements are off the table. If you can’t squat for awhile, maybe we can deadlift without pain, enter single leg stances, work on some upper body movements, trunk engagement, loaded carries, throw in some corrective exercises… There are a ton of ways to get better still on the table.
The great news
Quality pain free movement seems to alleviate pain signals in other movements. For you Fitness Professionals out there, if you’d like to earn a client for life stop handing out pain in your training sessions and instead follow this simple formula:
1. Find which movement patterns cause pain in your client; avoid these movements and refer out to a qualified medical professional.
2. Find which movement patterns your client is not good at, and get them better at said patterns.
3. Watch as your client gains more movement capacity and like magic: Their pain goes away!
It is not a guaranteed process, but I’m willing to bet most people will benefit from it. In fact, in a training population of over 300 we used the above process to reduce pain symptoms in our clients by a reported 89%!
Imagine that. Truly feeling less aches and pain all the time. Enjoying movement again. Or having your clients want to move more because it doesn’t hurt to do so. Might make calorie burning, and your job, a tad bit easier as well.