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This Pain Awareness Month: Dan’s here to make sure you’re pushing your body in the right ways

Pain is no joke. Dan's here to help identify your pain, how to train with it, and how to know when to rest.
Dan Ward

September is Pain Awareness Month, and pain is no joke. It can be the difference between functioning at full capacity and struggling to even go for a short walk around the block.

All of us should be able to live a life that’s as free from pain as possible, but it still affects millions of people all around the world, in a way that stops them from feeling and doing their best. 

There are some injuries and illnesses that are much harder to manage than others.

But at Another Round we believe that there’s a way to ease many types of pain – to make sure everyone can move and stay active in a way that keeps them healthy. 

What are the different types of pain?

Not all pain is the same. Here are a few different types to understand:

  • Chronic pain lasts for long periods of time, and often comes without a clear pathway to a complete cure. Sometimes, chronic pain is caused by illnesses like arthritis, but in other cases the trigger is harder to identify. In any case, physical therapy and lifestyle adjustments can help ease this type of pain, making it easier to function and exercise. 
  • Acute pain is the opposite to chronic pain, usually the result of a specific injury that’s easy to pinpoint. That makes it a little easier to treat, and it often goes away with appropriate recovery time and by addressing the underlying issues that caused it in the first place. 
  • Neuropathic pain comes from your nerves sending the wrong signals to the brain, which it then interprets as pain. This is one of the most complex types of pain to manage, but finding and treating the cause with appropriate medication often leads to much-improved outcomes. 
  • Radicular pain is also nerve-based, but like the name suggests, it ‘radiates’ out from a compressed nerve and causes pain in other areas of the body. This is a very broad category, and the right solution might range from simple lifestyle adjustments through to surgery – depending on the type and severity of the issue. 
  • Nociceptive pain is based around your nociceptors, which are sensory neurons that react to pain by sending signals to the rest of your body. A classic example is the throbbing you feel when you stub your toe, and this type of pain can be treated by targeting the source of the pain and then managing its recovery. 

All of these are very different. So if you’re trying to manage a particular type of pain in your day-to-day life or while exercising, it’s important to work out which one you’re dealing with, and then address it in the right way.

An experienced coach will be able to help with that. If you’re in doubt, just ask. 

Common injuries and how to manage them

Even though there are thousands of different forms pain takes, there are a few injuries that our coaches see regularly.

These are things that plenty of us will experience at one point or another – especially if we’re active and work out a lot, so it’s always worth knowing how to avoid and manage them. 

Runner’s knee is a catch-all term for a range of different injuries that cause pain around the knee area – often as a result of doing too much, too soon. It’s a serious issue, but if you address it early by reducing the amount and intensity of whatever’s causing it, or stopping completely for a bit, you’ll usually be okay. If you build up your running volume sensibly you should be ok though, and you’ll likely end up with even stronger, more injury-proof legs and knees than a non-runner.

Shin splints are an inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your tibia bone that is common through exercise. As with runner’s knee, the best medicine is rest to let your body recover, followed by a gradual return to activity. Ibuprofen and ice packs can also help with the inflammation, and you can help prevent shin splints by making sure your running form is good and you’re wearing the right shoes for your gait as well as following all the same advice that we’ve just talked about above for runner’s knee.

Back and neck issues are a real pain if you’re just getting back into exercise after time away. It’s your body’s way of saying it needs some time to adjust, so be patient and make sure to stretch properly every time you work out. Lower back pain in particular is often associated with lifting weights, and may mean that you’re lifting too heavy or not using the correct form.

Rotator cuff pain is also associated with heavy lifting, and it’s often caused by progressive wear and tear of your tendon tissue. To avoid it, good form is your friend, as well as listening to your body and not pushing through pain or niggles.

Sports injuries are another thing we see a lot of – especially in rugby and football where there are lots of sudden changes in direction that stress your joints and muscles. To avoid them, make sure you’re doing the right work around your matches – not just turning up cold and expecting to be fine. Strength and conditioning will make sure your body is used to the different movements you’ll need to do on the pitch, and you’ll probably play a lot better too. It should also go without saying that if you’re injured, don’t play.

Last but not least, pulled muscles are something we’ve all dealt with at one time or another. The cause is simple. A pulled muscle happens when you overstress a particular part of your body, by using poor form, lifting something that’s too heavy, or forgetting to warm up before exercising. If you correct those issues and prioritise mobility and stretching between sessions, then you’ll likely find it happens much less often. 

It’s your body, listen to it

It’s important to note that this is far from a complete list. There are all sorts of different ways that our bodies can tell us off.

So if you’re feeling pain, talk to someone who knows what they’re doing.

They’ll be able to help you work out what’s going wrong, and then build you a plan to stay fit and healthy that doesn’t cause any further damage. 

Exercise is great for our physical and mental health, and from what I’ve seen in my career, people who exercise consistently experience less pain and injury.

But the irony is that sometimes injuries are unavoidable in the lifelong journey to keeping fit.

Even so, you can reduce your chances of injury, and recover faster, better, and stronger by choosing a personal trainer that goes with you and knows how to push your body, not punish it. 

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