Personal Training Series: Ignoring pain

The human body has a pain sensing system. This system is designed to preserve the body and prevent long term damage. In training the body responds to stimuli and training pain needs to be overcome. However, there is a limit, and it is important to understand for your own body what that limit is.

I saw a documentary on television where a young boy had no pain sensing system. He would go to school and ask his friends to punch him in the stomach; he pretended he was superman because he felt no pain. One day his parents noticed bruising and swelling around his legs and abdomen, and took him to hospital. The doctors discovered he had severe internal haemorrhaging from being punched too much. This young boy’s lack of a pain sensing system could have led to his death.

Another documentary showed scientists trying to reproduce the pain sensing system in the body because it is so important for preserving life. With all the technology and advances in science today they were unable to replicate the system. It is highly complex and adapts to its changing environment. We need it to learn what not to do, what we can do, and what is dangerous.

In training, if we ignore pain completely then injuries often occur. It is important to put in perspective what you are doing, the experience you’ve had in training, and what you think your body can do – you must have realistic limitations as to how much pain you will withstand.

Be sensible and listen to your body. Focus on gradual increase in loading in training, and be happy with steady progress in your training goals. Aim long term rather than short term. Keep in touch with your physiotherapist and trainer to guide you through this process and avoid injury.

It is not much fun being injured and in the long run ignoring pain from an injury will make your training time longer. Get your body assessed by a physiotherapist and work with a personal trainer to prevent injury and to enjoy your training.

Stuart Broad leaves the Ashes series

It was after the first ball of the Adelaide test in the Ashes when bowler Stuart Broad, knew something wasn’t quite right. After getting through three overs, the stabbing pain in his stomach grew worse. Broad had an ultrasound off the field and it was confirmed he had a grade 3 tear.  A freak injury, which was later superseded as a 4cm tear in his abdominal muscle.

Broad's Stomach TearAfter an injection to the injury and a flicker of hope, Broad stepped into the nets and bowled a couple of bouncers. He felt like he couldn’t breathe, and knew from then he was out of the series.

Various articles relayed Broad’s story expressing how the injury has cut short his long term dream of playing for England in an Australian Ashes series. At 24 years old, I am confident Broad can find a full recovery with the right rehab and team around him. Broad will be off the field for 8-10 weeks. From the time of his injury till now, he is nearing 2 weeks.

The cricket lads, as most sport teams are a tight bunch, on and off field. Broad talks about how keeping his mates, and the World Cup in February, at the forefront of his mind will help him to get on with the rehab. The World Cup is 9 weeks away.

As an athlete and physio myself I am a big believer in having a rehab plan, clear goals, and an active support system around yourself when preparing for a match, game, race, or when you’re working towards health and recovery.

The mind is as much a part of the sport, or the injury, as the body.