Dealing with injury and pain

Dealing with injury & pain.

So yes, an injury is real. And that injury should be addressed initially by a good trusted physiotherapist. Not your doctor, (they want to tell you to rest up or take a pill, me: rolls eyes…

As a personal trainer I work with a physio or medical specialists so that the client has the best care, but I’m not going to stand there and do a 60 minute physio session.

Someone taught me on a course once and asked if we knew PTs that did half rehab work and half training with their clients in a session. We all did. The lecturers comment; If you do your job (Personal training) 50% of the time, and a Physiotherapists job 50% of the time, you’re shit at both.

Basically, stay in your lane and refer out to people better at a specific job. I liked that. Made a lot of sense.

Now, even after an injury has healed it’s not over. Sometimes there’s some pain now and again. Sometimes it’s caused by the way you’ve slept, the way you sat on your couch for 5hrs on a Netflix binge, your lack of movement or rehab homework done. Maybe you went too heavy or too long in the gym, there are a lot of factors.

Injuries need a carefully addressed exercise program so that you can stay pain free most of the time. Sometimes there’ll be an exercise that just aggravates an injury, and no your body doesn’t care if it’s your favourite exercise.

Someone once said to me “Lee, every time I run I have hip pain, every time I do my 10 mile run, that’s 3 times a week I have pain Lee”

Well, alarm bells are ringing. If I had tooth pain every time I brushed my teeth I’d have to ask myself if I was doing something wrong, but people don’t do it with exercise. They push through and tell themselves they’re built for running, or whatever movement it might be. Guess what, maybe you’re not. Maybe one of your ankles is too stiff, one hamstring too tight, one glute too weak. Now you’re running with more power on one leg, just a few hundred thousand repetitions in the week and you think it’ll be ok?

Bottom line, you either have to change your movements, lifestyle and workouts to become pain free, or you spend a chunk of time getting your body and joints in healthier working order with a Physio, or combine both.

And remember prehab beats rehab every time.

What can you do from NOW that KEEPS YOU PAIN FREE, so that you don’t need a physio or heaven forbid, the Dr and their pills.

That leads me onto psychogenic pain. See sometimes pain isn’t real pain. Crazy right, and now you don’t believe a word I’m saying. Stay with me though.

Your brain can give a pain simulation so that it avoids injury again. That’s due to psychological, emotional, or behavioural factors and can prolong an injury/pain more than needed.

I worked with a Commonwealth level 100m sprinter who ran it in 10 seconds flat, so pretty quick. Well one race he tore his lat muscle (Watch a sprinters arms rise up high and drive back down hard to generate force).

We worked on building the strength back up but also on the range of motion and the psychology of the action. If he was scared to use the arm as much he’d never break the 10s mark. An athlete can’t hold back for fear of another injury, but most of us casual gym goers and exercisers will.

It’s the main reason I won’t ask a client how their “pain” is after about a week or two. Because they’ve forgotten they had pain, forgotten they were “injured”. I’ve done it just to test them, after they bound up to me all smiles, tell me about their weekend dancing and the gossip from their workplace. I’ll drop in the question and ask them about the painful limb. And I watch, their smile goes, some even say “Ye now you mention it not great”, then a bloody limp appears. Where did that come from?

You see sometimes the psychology and emotion of the pain brings it all back, and that’s not good. Even expected pain. I went to pinch a clients pec fat area on a calliper test one day. As another of my case studies I watched her face, with my fingers already gripping a fat pinch and the calliper in the other hand, she’s all chatty, now I say “This is normally the painful pinch site”

Well she pulled a face of pain and made some sort of angry cat noise. Funny thing is I hadn’t used the calliper yet or done anything different. She’d already anticipated pain because of my words. Powerful right.

So, if you have pain, get it checked by a physio, get the diagnosis. Then you know steps going forward.

A good physio doesn’t want to see you for 12 months, they should want you fixed asap never to return, and whilst you’re doing some physio, work with a good Personal Trainer who will communicate with your team, adapt the training plan and hold you accountable to doing everything you said you would.

And before I leave you, don’t let an injury or pain define you. If you’re “Jane with the bad knee” then you’re probably not doing enough to fix it, still doing the wrong things, or thinking and talking about it way too much so that it becomes you. If that happens then people trying to be nice will ask you about your pain constantly, then you’re always “Jane with the bad knee”. That becomes a place of no change for your body and a horrible mindset as your days contain thoughts about pain and memories of pain.

Accept what you CAN change and change it. Accept what you CAN’T.


Carry on and stay safe,


For 20 years Lee has helped clients lose a lot of fat, drop that dress size or two, improve their strength, become pain free, improve sleep, stress and nutrition, and create an understanding of what it takes to make lasting changes and get results. Lee has been constantly fine tuning his skills to deliver the best nutrition advice, best training programs, and best lifestyle behaviour changes for you.

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