Some say, "Pain is weakness leaving the body" or even, "No pain no gain!" While there is some value and I would agree with both of those statements it's important to know the difference between good and bad pain! So what is the difference and how can I tell?
The Good: The good sort of pain that the above expressions are describing can be best described as the burning lungs following an uphill sprint, the burn in the muscles when doing low weight high repetition weights, that slow onset pain that comes when you push your body to cardiovascular or muscular limits during a workout. Its the type of pain that is a result of the workout process naturally. Its the bodies way of telling you you're tearing the body down in small increments in a manner conducive to rebuilding a stronger muscular system over a period of time. Its also short lived. This type of pain could last as little as a couple seconds or minutes, as you recuperate the oxygen debt to your cells following a high intensity sprint, or even a couple days, as in the case of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) following you first workout in MONTHS (we all know this pain)! This pain is usually felt in the muscle itself, not a joint, in all ranges of motion, as opposed to when you perform a specific motion. Its not necessarily present prior to your workout and is usually gone shortly after the workout.
The Bad: Bad pain is what many of us are very familiar with on a daily basis. Its there when we wake up, when we go to work, when we eat lunch, when we go to bed. It may be less or more throughout the day but almost always present. You feel it with certain movements or all movements. it can be local or it can cause numbness or weakness in the arm, leg or foot. It will keep you from working, working out, taking care of the kids or even taking care of yourself! This pain may be a result of a single event or lifestyle. It can be fast onset or slow onset. This type of pain is usually a result of local, regional or systematic failure of the body to maintain adaptation to imposed demands resulting in dysfunction.
The Ugly: Unfortunately pain is one of the last signs of dysfunction. Which means, for most of us, when it comes to fixing the problem there have been months or years of muscle imbalance in need of identifying and correcting. Which in turn means numerous treatments for long lasting results. Years of bad habits, which put you in the position you're in now, aren't changed overnight! It would be nice, but thats just not how it works! The truth is that the longer you wait to correct your dysfunction the longer it takes to recover fully. If you're lucky you get to the chiropractor, like myself (haha, shameless plug), during the acute phase of injury (first couple of days after an ankle sprain, for example) for care to minimize secondary damage to the body part injured. Most of us walk it off not realizing the ramifications of our indifference towards a significant injury to the kinetic chain.
Now for The Good (once more): When treatment is started during the acute phase, 1-4 days of injury, the following benefits can be expected, as specific to chiropractic sports care: 1. Reduction of inflammation. 2. Reduced secondary injury from excessive inflammation. 3. Reduced recovery time needed. 4. Proper joint motion maintained. 5. Identification of possible compensations resulting from injury. 6. Preventative rehab to maintain proper muscle balance in the kinetic chain. Theres a reason pro sports have trainers, chiropractors and medics field side for competition! When you've got that much money invested in an athlete you need the best care to keep him/her healthy and on the field!
You should take your health no less serious. you may not be making 7 figures to play a game but you have just the same responsibility to your family and self to keep food on the table, get the kids to school or sport. If you neglect your body there will come a day, not an "if" but a "when", when you cant perform those duties. At which point the cost of missed work and rehabilitative care will be more than most people care to pay for, not to mention the reduced quality of life associated with the financial burden! So to add to the above expressions, I'll close with this: "An ounce of prevention is worth an ounce of cure!" Be smart and be proactive with your body so you don't miss the big game, yours or the kid's, for a silly injury you never took care of when you had the chance...... get adjusted!
Mark Aylor D.C.