If you play sport regularly its virtually impossible to stay injury-free forever. Soft tissues injuries happen to us all through sprains, strains and knocks. The only real predictor of injury is the sport itself and previous injury so there’s not a lot we can do to avoid it.
After a sports injury there is a phase of recovery where your tissue is repairing. Depending on the severity of the injury this phase can last anywhere from a few days to 6 months.
In this time you will probably have pain in or around the site of the injury and probably when you move too. This is called Acute pain and it is associated with the injury. Clearly how much pain you experience depends on what the injury is and how severe it is.
Once the tissue is healed (no longer than 6 months) your are no longer ‘injured’, but it is completely possible to still experience pain.
If, after the injured tissue has healed you still have pain, the pain is regarded as Chronic.
Acute Pain Or Chronic Pain?
It’s important to be able to disassociate injury and pain as and injury can heal, but you can still feel pain. If this is case, it is more likely that because you’ve experienced pain in that area of your body for a long time, your central nervous system (CNS) has adapted to habitually feel pain in that area, regardless of the condition of the tissue.
The reason we feel pain is because it is a protective mechanism within our body and this mechanism can remain in place long after the injury has gone.
Here is a great short video from the NHS about acute pain and chronic pain.
Treatment Of Acute And Chronic Pain
There are many approaches for treating pain and knowing whether your pain is acute or chronic is crucial. A diagnosis of your pain is a must so if you haven’t had your pain diagnosed go and get it diagnosed by a professional.
Acute pain should be treated under the advice of the professional and several methods may be advised – the PRICE protcol (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) is one example.
Massage, stretching and foam rolling are often advised for pain too but it’s important to know that these methods are effective neurologically and not effective for healing tissue.
If your pain is chronic it is important to address the psychological aspects of pain as well as the physical aspects of pain. Stress, anxiety and environmental factors all have a big effect on chronic pain.
Training With Pain
If your pain is acute (ie. you’re injured) you should be training in a way that avoids the injury to aid the healing process. This may mean changing your training approach all together!
If you’re training and you have chronic pain, your training should be focused around re-educating your movement so you learn that it’s ok to move in certain way and retrain your central nervous system to not give you pain without reason!
Clearly, the treatment of chronic pain takes time and effort but once you realise that pain is more than just injured tissues the options you have for treating it are huge.
If you have a question about pain, fill in the form below and I’ll be happy to offer any advice I have.