Playing with Pain

I’m having one of those periods of time.

One of those rough stretches.

If you work out on a regular basis, you know what I’m talking about.

Unless you’re in your 20s, in which case you have no idea.

A pulled calf muscle. Followed by a tweaked back ( yes, that’s a clinical term)

A sore heel, then a blister on the ball of my foot.

I’m used to things like this. I’m in my late 50’s. My very late 50’s. And I work out 5-6 days a week.

More like 6.

Or 7, depending on the weather. I mean, if it’s a Sunday, which is supposed to be my off day ( it’s the lapsed Catholic in me) but it’s sunny and warm, I will bargain with myself. I’ll say, “Well, if I just feel like running, that’s not really a workout. It’s just what I feel like doing today” which is some seriously twisted logic to some folks, I grant you.

And last week, on my vacy, I was in Fort Lauderdale. There’s a beach. With a great running path. Right by the beach. It’s sunny and 80-something. 4 days later I’m in Aruba. Sunny. Beautiful . And you get to post that you ran in Aruba, which pisses off your friends even more than your regular running posts. I mean, who can let a few minor aches and pains hold you back, ya know?

But I digress.

Point is, I’m active. And being active and older means that something is ALWAYS sore, hurt, throbbing, etc. Feeling sore after a workout is kind of a masochistic badge of honor. Those achy muscles that make it hard to get out of the car are a glaring reminder of the hard work you put in. That can be kinda cool.

“It is normal for muscle soreness to occur after a workout that was challenging and/or new to the body” according to ,Jacqueline Crawford, exercise physiologist and education specialist at American Council on Exercise (ACE),  Even if you work out on a regular basis, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt. “You may be in great physical shape, but if you tried a new workout that your body was not familiar with, it is very likely that you will experience some level of soreness. But sometimes that pain can mean you’re actually injured. What your pain is trying to tell you isn’t always so clear cut, though. For those who work out regularly, it may be a little easier to distinguish. “If you’re accustomed to working out and don’t normally feel pain and one day you do, that tells you there’s something to think about,” says Claudette Lajam, M.D. , assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. For a beginner, it may be a little tougher to get in sync with what your body’s telling you.

The terms “being injured” and “being hurt” are very different from each other. Being hurt means “having a sensation of pain, physically or mentally” while “injured” implies “to cause or do any kind of harm, such as a tear, severe sprain, etc. according to ””.

An injury is usually accompanied by a sudden and sharp pain.  You’ll likely feel pressure in the area and movements of the area may hurt. This seems like common sense, but many people ignore pain, work through pain, justify pain and in some cases even train in pain.

Yup. That sounds familiar. And how does that story usually end?

With a minor injury, which would have healed with proper rest & rehabilitation in a week or 2 turning into 4-5 weeks of frustration. Generally recreational athletes will feel better after a week or 2 out of the game. This is where the gray area is – during this time they’re the most at risk of re-injury.

Our bodies healing process is the same – whether you sprain a ligament, stretch a tendon, or strain a muscle. With injuries there’s always a tearing or traction and microfibers are injured. Inflammatory factors then start to populate in the area and you go through the inflammation process.

If you quickly jump back into your routinely exercise without giving the body time to heal you might be making a minor injury into a major problem, as there can be compensatory actions happening with other joints of your body due to the injury.

Injure a knee.

Work through it.

Place a bunch of stress on the other knee.


2 bad knees.

I know. Injuries suck. They take you out of your routine. They mess with your prep. They make you feel like you’re being left out, left behind.

And I know, taking the time to rest and recover is frustrating. You want to climb the walls. But you’re not even allowed to climb. Dammit.

Bored. Frustrated. Pissed…..

But you don’t have to look at it like that. I look at injuries like I look at the days when I REALLY don’t want to work out, but I do it anyway. Those are the times that separate you from the others.BUT…

You gotta be smart;


  • I know, I know. It’s boring. You can feel the fitness leaking out of your body. All the cool kids are out running or lifting or Zumba-ing. You gotta give it the time it needs.
  • If you’re working with a Physiotherapist or Doc make sure they’re tracking your progress and give you the OK to return to normal exercise.




  • Once you get the go ahead to get back into your previous activities, you will need to have pain free motion in the joint that was injured. If you still have pain in that joint you are not ready tore return to exercising it.



  • Once you are pain free; you can still re-injure yourself if you think you can come back at the same intensity / duration as you left off at. EASE back into it. You’d be surprised how quickly you can lose strength or cardio.


  • So, you can’t lift free weights. Maybe it’s a chance to use machines. You can’t do kickboxing. Maybe try a yoga class. No running? Maybe the elliptical. Actually, this can be a chance to try a class, machine or form of exercise you don’t normally do. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you CAN do.


One last thought on the subject.

Others will have ideas.



Miracle recovery schemes.

You know what?




Don’t listen to them. Who should you listen to?

You. That’s who you should listen to. You can hear them. But LISTEN to you.

Your body.

Your Choice. (if I may borrow that..)

So ends the lecture blog.

Love to you all.

Talk soon,


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