Are you in pain? or Injured? This is a common thing I hear as a coach when teaching movement. "Ow that hurt", is commonly used and to ensure that you are moving safe, my job is to identify that "pain" and classify it for what you really mean.
Pain and injury, while they often go hand in hand, are not the same thing. Just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you’re injured, and it’s entirely possible you could have an injury that doesn’t cause you constant pain. But while minor aches and pains can frequently be resolved independently, legitimate injuries often require the attention of a medical professional that should not be looked over.
Let's start to identify the common things I hear for Pain vs. Injury
-Did something happen? This question usually provides one of the most simple and telling answers. Did your pain start following a specific event? Did you feel a pop or a snap mid movement or did the pain slowly surface over time? Even with overuse injuries, where there is a slow buildup of dysfunction and tissue damage, the actual injury is often the result of some activity that pushed your body past the threshold. Unless there’s an underlying pathology or disease state, most cases where there isn’t something specific that incited the pain probably aren’t a big deal.
-Do you have swelling, bruising, or discoloration? If you have an injury using visual diagnosis and observations such as the color of your skin, if it becomes inflamed and the type of bruising can be a big indicator for something wrong. There may be loss of function independent of any sensation of pain or you may be unable to do something because that task has become intolerably painful. In either case, there’s a good chance you have an actual injury. It’s important to distinguish between task functions that give you some discomfort but can still be performed and motions that are so painful you simply cannot do them. This is one of the biggest differences between being hurt and being injured.
-On a scale from 1-10 what is the pain level? Your pain is passively above a six or it’s a zero but jumps to a nine or ten with activity, there’s a good chance you have an injury. The type of pain is also important. Sharp, stabbing pain, burning, tingling, or numbness are all symptoms that require medical attention. A prolonged dull ache may be resolvable through your own efforts.
-Has this been an issue for a long time ? If the pain persists past 24 hours, but there’s a significant improvement with each consecutive day, then it’s probably not a big deal. If you have something that feels just as terrible on day three as when it happened, it’s probably worth getting it looked at. On the other hand, if it’s mostly resolved but you’re left with a nagging pain that lasts longer than two weeks, it’s also probably time to make an appointment.
If you are having pain, you need to do the following to ensure that you are going to get healthy and strong despite your pain.The solution is simple: reduce the load until you can use proper form. If your technique suffers minor flaws from time to time due to fatigue, it’s not a huge deal, but the more time you spend in bad positions the more likely you are to end up injured.
Injuries are not fun, but for most of us they’re just part of being active. With a little effort and self-awareness you can learn how to separate a speed bump from a car crash and keep comfortably cruising toward your goals.