By: Anthony Campo
There are times when you are going to get beat up during a training cycle. If you are injured, you might need to take some time off because there is the potential for making it worse. However, if you are just feeling slight pain or discomfort (which inevitably happens at periods during your training,) and you are not going to make the problem worse, there are some things you can do to help you beat the pain, and keep hitting records and moving forward.
The first thing is determining where the pain is coming from. This doesn’t always mean the spot that hurts. The body is an elaborate system, and various areas feed into each other. For example lower back pain might be initiated from tight hamstrings. It would be nearly impossible to identify all the unique combinations so if you do not have a background of anatomy you should find yourself a good personal trainer, therapist, or physician to help you identify where the problem is coming from.
Heat vs. Ice Both heat and ice can be valuable tools to help you battle pain. If you have just hurt or tweaked something, in the first 24-48 hours, and you have sharp or jolting pain, it would be in your best interest to use ice immediately following exercise to help fight the cardinal signs of inflammation. It is important to remember that inflammation is the body’s natural healing process, and isn’t always a bad thing. So this means as the symptoms start to decrease, you should start to use ice less frequently in order to let the body’s natural processes play out. Once the pain is no longer sharp, but becomes “achy,” heat would be a good option pre-workout to help increase circulation and metabolism to the area. Heat can help better prepare the muscles for exercise. It also can help loosen up an area, allowing you to stretch better which can relieve tension to areas of discomfort. This can help speed up the body’s own natural healing processes in the long run.
In cases of muscle “pulls” or strains, stretching can make the area worse. If you stretch, and it increases symptoms, you should defer from static stretching in that area because you could actually be making the problem worse. In these instances you should focus more on soft tissue work. Soft tissue work is essentially a massage. You can do this manually with your hands, a foam roll, tennis ball, and various other tools that are on the market. Soft tissue work along with ART (Active Release Technique) can also help to warm-up the area, and also speed up the healing process. You can also use soft tissue work to locate trigger points that can be giving you referred pain in other areas of the body. An example of this would be someone with pain in the shoulder area due to an adhesion forming a trigger point in the supraspinatus. Work out this adhesion or “knot,” and the pain in the shoulder could potentially be relieved allowing you to train harder and better.
Hopefully utilizing all of these techniques will help to keep you healthy and training strong in between deload (active rest) weeks!