Wellness Wednesday: No Pain, No Gain Is Not Always the Best Policy

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Photo by Hanna Duenkel

Photo by Hanna Duenkel

By Maria Cuevas, DPT
Wellness Blog Contributor
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(February 10, 2016) — ‘No pain, no gain!’ We’ve all heard this phrase, and while it can certainly be motivating, it isn’t always the best policy if you want to avoid acute and overuse injuries. As the weather warms up and another sports season gets underway, it’s tempting for athletes to rush back into doing their sport full throttle. But it’s important to know that if you’ve been out of practice in the offseason, rushing back into any activity full force can lead to serious injuries.

There are two types of injuries you should be aware of when starting a new activity:

  • Acute injuries — these are usually caused by a traumatic event. This could be spraining your ankle, dislocating your shoulder or tearing a ligament in your knee.
  • Overuse injuries — these are most commonly caused by a repetitive movement. Overtime, these can cause micro-tears or trauma to the tendons, bones or ligaments.
Tennis elbow isn't only an injury affecting tennis players, but can affect any athlete who...Photo by Owen Gotimer.

Tennis elbow isn’t only an injury affecting tennis players, but can affect any athlete who is pretty inactive during the week and gets back to playing sports just on the weekends. Photo by Owen Gotimer.

Have you ever heard of tennis elbow? That’s a common example of an overuse injury, and it doesn’t just happen to tennis players. Tennis elbow can also happen to ‘weekend warriors’ or athletes who are pretty inactive during the week and get back to playing sports just on weekends. Another example of an overuse injury you’ve probably heard of is tendonitis.  This can occur at any joint but is very predominant in the elbow, shoulder and knee.

All overuse injuries occur because of weak muscles surrounding a joint that is doing a repetitive motion. It leads to inflammation of the joint or tendon and causes deep aching pain when you move. If it is tendonitis-related, there will be tenderness to touch over the overused tendon.

While some people may already be predisposed to these types of injuries because of body alignment or biomechanical factors like lack of mobility, muscle imbalances and flexibility issues, anyone can suffer an overuse injury in their lifetime.

Good news is, you can prevent these kinds of injuries!  Here are some tips to follow

  1. Don’t skip your warm-ups
  • Warm-up properly before an activity.
  • Give yourself enough time to stretch.
  • Know the correct stretches to perform to properly warm up your joints, muscles and tendons before activity.
  • This will help increase the blood flow throughout your body.

2. Know your boundaries!

It's important to know your limits when engaging in physical activity and to make sure you ease into it with proper warm-ups. Photo by Kaitlyn Mason.

It’s important to know your limits when engaging in physical activity and to make sure you ease into it with proper warm-ups. Photo by Kaitlyn Mason.

  • Don’t go all out on your first day.
  • Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts week by week.
  • Allow enough time for your body to recover.

3. If you are having new pain, use the RICE Method

  • Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate on any areas that feel sore or are inflamed.
  • Apply ice for at least 10 to 15 minutes after you complete an activity

4. Lastly, if you are having any pain or are suffering from an injury, don’t wait until it’s too late to get help.

Sometimes, ‘no pain, no gain’ is not always the motto to follow. Playing through a sprain or a strain can lead to more serious issues and prolong the recovery phase of treatment.

Note from our sponsor: The clinicians at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center are experts at helping you prevent injuries and recover from them. They will design an individualized treatment plan focused on your sport and your goals. Call LSTC today to speak to a member of their team: 703-450-4300.

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Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is a premier physical therapy clinic. We offer outpatient orthopedic and sports physical therapy as well as specialty programs.

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