Don't Ignore Pain

Updated: May 7, 2019

Don’t ignore pain. Now, I understand the irony of hearing this from a personal trainer, seeing as we’re the worst people for ignoring pain and ploughing on regardless, but do as I say, not as I do! And I know I’ve been guilty of it, I still am, and I probably will be in the future too, but I know my body, it’s capabilities, it’s limits, I know how to rehab injuries, I know when it’s too much. The average person does not. That’s what pain is for, to tell you, to warn you. For the purposes of today, I’m obviously going to focus primarily on physical pain.

Essentially, pain is your body’s response to tissue damage, or potential tissue damage, certainly acute pain. Things get a bit trickier when we look at chronic pain, and more on that later. Your body has a nervous system, that’s a system of nerves and not a worried or jumpy system, that goes from your brain, down your spine, and stretches out all over your body. Often, it’s your nociceptors everywhere that are feeling for sensation, and then sending that information back to be processed by your brain. Then your brain will decide what action to take.

So, as you can see, it’s a very important part of your body’s communication with itself, therefore it doesn’t really make sense or sound wise, to try and interfere with or block that communication. That’s one of the main reasons why I am not a fan of painkillers, and pain numbing drugs. Aside from the fact that they can be highly addictive, if you’re no longer hearing your body tell you when you’re in pain, because you’re doing something wrong, it’s very likely that you’re only going to make your issue worse. Sometimes it’s better to just try and bear it.

Chronic pain is different. It lasts longer, and can often be more associated with nerve damage, rather than tissue damage. It can be anything from the likes of arthritis or a stroke, to psychosomatic pain, whereby your communication system is messed up, and your body is telling you or warning you about damage that might not even be there, or be there anymore. It can also be heavily linked to your moods, for example when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, you’re more aware of the pain. So, it’s more of a neurological effect, than a physical one, making it much harder to treat. Pain killers often only work for a period of time, and the pain can resurface. Treating the damaged nerve itself isn’t an exact science either at the moment. This is why chronic pain can be so debilitating to people, but perhaps looking at the brain and how it’s processing that information should be the starting point.

In summary, we usually feel pain for a reason, and it’s not a wise idea to ignore it or block it. It’s your body’s main way of telling you there’s something wrong, and it’s a self-defence mechanism against making it worse. Pain isn’t pleasant, but it’s vital at times. Until next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer