Is it safe to exercise?
Welcome back to movement monday, sorry I’ve been away for a couple weeks but between Hurricane Michael and our newest addition, I’ve had to focus on other challenges.
In this post, we’ll focus on one of the biggest questions for the active person who is in pain,
Is it safe to exercise and what exercises can I do?
As a Physio and a strength coach look at 3 different types of people who are asking the question. The first is the person with the fresh, first time injury maybe with an ankle that looks like this. In this persons’ case we want to cool things off, literally. We want to follow the RICE principle of rest-ice-compression-elevation but use your best judgement, some people can’t tolerate cold or compression and some will need emergency care. As far as exercise goes, this person will also want to start very early with gentle movement of their injured area take for instance that ankle. This is going to do a couple of things. First, moving is going to begin to help flush out the gunk the body produces in an injury and will reduce swelling and eventually pain and will jump start the healing process. Second, when we have an injury, our brains begin to rewire how we move in order to protect the area from further injury., think of the time when you’ve stubbed your toe, limping around the house eventually your body finally figures out that you didn’t break it and you can walk normal again i Soon after injury we are already starting to see changes in the brain about that injured area and early movement helps fix those changes.This early movement can even prevent pain from progressing to the chronic stage. When getting back to exercise This person does not want to just go back to what they were doing before, you want to find out why the injury occurred
The second person is Maybe 5-6 weeks out from your injury and you were wanting to get back into the gym but are concerned about messing things up...should you go back to the weights you were doing before, running the same distance, or trying to come anywhere close to your PR
When things fire up, should you use heat, ice...should you foam roll, use a lacrosse ball or 2? And where? At 5-6 weeks out from most injuries(except surgeries) most exercises are fair game. The key is to begin to re-lay or even improve the foundation that you had before the injury
And if possible, fix areas where you were lacking stability or mobility because some injuries are as a result of missing one or both of those elements. Let’s take, for example, the low back, which thrives on the muscles around it providing stability. We want to look at those muscles as their main function. And no, that is not 1000 crunches or side bends...we want to start with their real purpose-being anti-extension(or preventing a back bend), anti-flexion(or forward bend) and anti rotation. From there we want to challenge it in a variety of positions of varying stability whether or not that is in kneeling or on one leg. Moving it onto more functional or sport specific positions that force your body into stability without compromising your safety.
And then there is the person who’s been in pain for years, has seen the who’s who of Doctors, Chiros, PT’s, massage therapists, seen 10 different providers and got 10 different answers as to why they hurt and just does not know where to start. Interestingly enough, this is the easiest answer as to is it safe to exercise...the simple answer is YES. The take home message for you, even if you had an MRI showing 5 bulging discs in your back or the knees are bone on bone is that motion is lotion for your joints. Your job is to start small.
How small? Most people who have been in pain for years know that if they go and hit the treadmill for 30 minutes, they’re going to suffer...if they try to clean the whole house...they will be in bed for days after...Your job is to first set a goal...what do you really want to be able to do?
Maybe that is just walk on the beach with your spouse or kids(or grandkids) for half an hour… but where to start?
If you know how much you have to do before you fire things up, say walking 15 minutes is enough to put you in bed for days...then we look at starting at 5 minutes and adding 1 minute every 3-4 walks.
The key here is to poke the pain bear but don’t jump on for a ride-we want to just brush against the discomfort and back off. The good news is that by now, things have healed as your body is a really good self healer. For whatever reason, you are the 1 in 4 people who move into a long term pain because things didn’t calm down.
For each of the three people that I talked about today, they each have a different starting point and sometimes it is hard to figure out where to start. That is why, here at Body Mechanix in Tallahassee, I offer an absolutely FREE discovery visit. This is your chance to get YOUR questions answered and figure out where you should start. Maybe you need some hands on care to calm your system down to be able to move...maybe you need some pain relieving exercises(yes they do exist), or a approach that finds out why you injured yourself and a coach who can guide you back to your sport.