With a week of summer training in the bank, you’re probably feeling a little sore. Aches and pains from pushing your body to its limits are completely normal and expected, but you shouldn’t “tough-it-out” through all discomfort and pain. Registered sport physiotherapist, Pat Stanziano, has some advice for you on how to differentiate muscle soreness from injuries and how to assess pain.
Some answers modified to accommodate article length
FLEXAFIT: How can you tell a normal ache from an injury?
PAT: The sensation may be sharper, felt in the muscles or joints, and may linger beyond 2-3 days if not addressed. You may notice some additional signs and symptoms, like swelling, increased tissue temperature, and decrease in range of motion.
FLEXAFIT: What kind of pain is okay to work through?
PAT: I like to teach my athletes how to assess their pain behaviour through use of an activity traffic light guide. Before applying the guide, specific to a particular exercise or activity, I will have them assess their pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (I need an emergency room), as well as a baseline movement (or two) that has been affected by the particular area in pain.
The red light scenario depicts performing an exercise or activity that causes an increase in pain and a major change/loss of their baseline movement(s) which lasts for several days after. In this case, action needs to be taken to calm things down, before attempting the performance of the exercise or activity at a reduced load.
The yellow light scenario depicts performing an exercise or activity that causes an increase in pain but little-to-no change/loss of their baseline movement(s) AND these changes do not last into the next day. In this case, maintain the current workload.
The green light scenario depicts performing an exercise or activity that causes little-to-no increase in pain that returns to baseline shortly after completion, and no change/loss of their baseline movement(s). In this case, action needs to be taken to add a little more load the next time the exercise or activity is attempted.
Check in with us next week when we talk to Pat again about injury prevention and effective recovery!