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Pain and Running

For the non-runners out there the words pain and running may be synonymous, but that’s a conversation for another time…

Today I received this great feedback from Beth, a seasoned runner who came into clinic a while ago, unable to run:

“Carry, I hope you are well! I’ve been meaning to message to say how grateful I am for the advice you have given me… I’m 5 weeks into marathon training and have had no issues so far which is a miracle for me, considering my previous injuries and the mileage I’ve been clocking up! I did a 25km run last weekend and only felt muscle soreness!! … I’m so thankful for your advice… I’ve never gone this long without an old injury playing up or doing something new to myself!”

I haven’t seen Beth in clinic for quite some time, despite her colourful injury history, because we figured out some effective tools that work for her and keep her out of trouble – which don’t include hours of stretching every day. Far from it.

This means she can enjoy running without lengthy stretch admin that, for some, takes longer than the run itself(!). And importantly, endless/ongoing/regular treatment sessions are a thing of the past for her; she’s largely independent, which is how it should be. After all human beings are designed to move, walk and run and should be able to enjoy doing these without feeling hostage to mind boggling programmes of ‘strengthening’ or ‘stabilising’ or rehab, or whatever else we believe holds us together because we’ve been told we’re unstable, weak or that we’re doing it wrong:

We’re more robust than we may think and our bodies are amazingly adaptable.

Last time I saw Beth, she described a shift in her mindset as being a significant factor in the changes she achieved, and this had a positive impact on how she thinks about and deals with pain if she feels it. The approach we used involved understanding the difference between pain and injury (they aren’t the same thing, and this impacts how to decide on the most appropriate action for the individual): knowledge is power and Pain Education is a big part of (but not the whole) reason Beth is able to train harder than before without being hampered by problems. As a result she’s more comfortable and more confident.

It’s important to remember that pain is pain – it’s always real (the notion of pain being all in the mind is often a misunderstanding of contemporary science or the old-fashioned view of hypochondria – neither of which are helpful if you’re dealing with any kind of chronic problem). If you feel it, there’s a reason for it (whether injury or pain problem). Ignoring an ongoing issue may not be a particularly good strategy, neither is stopping running or training completely. Making informed logical changes to what you do and how you do it is more likely to produce effective results and positively inform your future physical self.

In summary

– pain and injury aren’t the same; neither are chronic pain and chronic injury

– not all injuries are painful, and not all pain means there is tissue damage

– chronic pain isn’t a reflection of the state of the tissue

– all sorts of things contribute to a pain problem

– placing a lot of emphasis on physical findings may not be the most helpful approach in chronic pain conditions

– pain is an individual experience; overcoming a chronic pain problem (whether you’re a runner, walker or none of the above) often needs a multifactorial approach that considers various potential contributing factors. This can includes everything from understanding and beliefs, to recovery and behaviour, to adaptive bio-mechanics, and more.

We’re all different and there’s incredible individual variability between people in how they experience pain and respond to it. As always, the proof is in the pudding, only you know when you feel confident and comfortable again, and able to do things without thinking too hard about them.

Additional Support

CTH Healthcare is all about helping you get better, quicker, so that you can overcome pain and be independent of ongoing treatment. If you have any questions on this article or would like to find out how treatment can help, get in touch using the form below.

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