"No Pain, No Gain" Debunked
Pain is described in the dictionary as "the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body." Pain is the body's warning system telling us that something is wrong. Pain is never normal and should not be downplayed or ignored. After sustaining an injury, the body's natural response is to create a painful stimuli which then starts a chain reaction, altering normal function. In this viscous cycle, pain creates inhibition, which in turn causes instability, and compensatory or faulty movement patterns, which then repeats itself resulting in increased problems.
Appropriate treatment of pain often initially includes the use of pharmaceuticals for decreasing pain and inflammation which will help in healing the viscous cycle of pain. The initiation of physical therapy will help to retrain aberrant motion, restore proper joint movement/mechanics and reverse the compensatory movement patterns that have resulted.
Your physical therapist will evaluate the affected area and develop an appropriate plan of care to decrease the pain, improve movement and joint mechanics and regain strength and functional ability. It is important to remember that completing the stretching and strengthening program devised by your therapist, you should feel a stretch sensation or muscle fatigue which are appropriate responses, but never have an increase/production in existing symptoms which would be detrimental to the healing process. As you progress in your rehabilitation program, a delicate balance needs to be found between increased challenge to your exercises without triggering the undesired consequence of pain.
Pain is an indicator of damage and therefore slows or halts the healing process. In order to maximize your benefit in recovery of your injury, the philosophy of "no pain, no gain" should never be incorporated in the rehabilitation process.
Anthony Mencucci, PT