A question I often get asked is, ‘can I keep training with this injury?’. Many of my patients are passionate about their fitness pursuits, and the thought of missing a week or more of training is upsetting to them.

 

I can sympathise with this because I love to train too. I am currently training for an ultramarathon, and during my plan, I have had three niggles that I was convinced would stick with me until the race.

 

Well, thankfully, the short answer is, ‘yes’, you can train through injury. In my case, I made a few adjustments to my plan, and I was able to keep up with my weekly mileage whilst the injuries recovered. I am now back to running injury-free and I didn’t take any rest.

 

Before we get into it, I want to make a little caveat to this article; the advice here should be taken carefully. Some injuries should be rested, and I do advise this from time to time. I will try my best to explain how to train through pain, but if you are ever in doubt, seek advice from a professional.

 

With that said, yes, you can train through (most) injuries. The reason for this is that science is starting to realise that recovery from injury largely happens in the brain. There are cellular changes that need to happen locally in a damaged tissue, which is facilitated by the nervous and immune systems, but the way the brain processes what has happened and how it coordinates the body in response to the injury is perhaps a more important factor in one’s recovery.

 

When you are training, you are sending information up to the brain that helps it reconfigure your movement patterns, and this also helps coordinate the response from the immune system.

 

The other important benefit of continuing to exercise is that you are staying strong. Strength (or lack of it) is the number one predictor of one’s risk of injury. It’s important to note that strength is task-specific, so if you are a runner, it is important to stay ‘running strong’, and the best way to do that is to run!

 

The way I think about problems in the body is that if we are taking two steps forward and only one step back, we’re winning. So the goal when training is to not aggravate the system so much that you’re taking two steps forwards and two steps back.

 

If you are injured, I have a few rules to follow which should help you win the battle:

 

  1. Try to find a way to adapt your training to not aggravate the injury. With gym work, this is easy because you can always take out the movement patterns that aggravate the pain. For example, if you have a shoulder injury that doesn’t like overhead press but can cope with bench press and pull-downs, you can keep training your shoulders by avoiding the overhead press movement. Often, strengthening the joint with planes of motion that don’t cause pain will help the plane that is struggling.

    You can play with other variables too. Reducing the load, the speed and the range of motion can activate the muscles and joints in a way that is safer. Over time, you can increase these variables back to their original levels.

    With running, this can be a bit trickier. One of my injuries was a foot problem which caused stabbing pain in the ball of my foot each time it hit the ground. This isn’t ideal as a runner because my feet often need to hit the floor! I found a way to manage it, though, by changing my gait to more of a ‘waddle’, running on trails instead of roads and reducing my speed. Although this was a much slower run, I was getting the miles in, which helped me stay on track for the ultra.

 

  1. Pay attention to the first few minutes of your session, and things should get easier. If they progressively get worse, that is probably your body’s way of asking you to stop. Most problems get a bit easier when you are warmed up, and this is a sign that you can continue, but listen to the language of your body and stop if you need to.

 

  1. Get treatment and do the rehab. Getting a good diagnosis, hands-on treatment, and personalised exercises from a professional can help accelerate the recovery process. The body is a healing machine, and anything we can do to enhance the body’s natural power will increase the likelihood that an injury will recover even if you are training on it.

 

Are there any times that you shouldn’t exercise through injury? Yes, of course! Everything I have spoken about above involves adapting your training in a way where you manage the pain to prevent it from getting worse. This often involves reducing the intensity significantly to find a level of training that works for you.

 

Sometimes, however, this isn’t possible. This is why I often advise my patients to avoid matches, races and team events where the intensity is out of their control. It’s one thing to train on your own in an intelligent, controlled way, but another to ramp up the intensity and put your body at risk.

 

If pain and injury are holding you back, we can help in this clinic. We also like to discuss lifestyle factors, not just to get you out of pain but to live a healthy life with well-being as a priority.

 

pigeon pose

Benefits of the pigeon pose

The pigeon pose is one of my favourite stretches!

I call it a ‘keystone stretch’ because the pigeon pose helps to unlock so many things. The stretch primarily targets the glutes and the piriformis, but it will also be helping some of the deep rotators of the hip. Some of these muscles have connective tissue attachments to the lower lumbar ligaments and to something called the ‘thoracolumbar fascia’ which spans from the pelvis to the thorax.

So you can see why I call it a keystone stretch! Loosening the back of the hip and pelvis really can have a huge impact on the rest of the body. (For the anatomy geeks among you, check out the muscles of the hip here.)

How to do the pigeon pose

We call it a ‘pose’, but really I don’t think of it that way. I prefer to think of it as a framework to help explore my body through movement.

Here are some of the little nuances and tricks I use to engage with the tissues a bit more and to find the bits that need the stretch the most.

I often recommend the pigeon pose to help unlock a stiff lower back, tight hips, or if someone is either very active with exercise, or very sedentary with lots of sitting.

The stretch can be fairly intense, so it is not always recommended if you are in acute pain and it is best to check with your osteopath to see if it is right for you. Always follow the principle that a stretch should feel ‘nice’. If it becomes sore, stop until you get to see your health professional.

You can find out more about how we treat back pain here and hip pain here.

If you want to see how the pigeon pose might fit into a complete hip stretching routine, have a look at this video.

groin strain treatment

What is a groin strain?

We know that having a groin strain is incredibly frustrating. It is an injury to the adductor muscles and tendons, which are along the inside of your thigh.

Groin strains are common in sports that require a sudden change in movement or direction, kicking, twisting.

However a groin strain can also occur during a day-to-day activity if the groin muscles are stressed.

 

Symptoms of a groin strain:

  • Localised sharp pain with tenderness in the inner thigh and groin
  • Bruising and swelling may be present but not always
  • Pain with bringing the legs together
  • Pain with bringing your knees up and walking up the stairs

 

3 Tips for managing your groin strain:

 

Tip #1: Ice the groin soon after the injury

Within 48 hours of a groin strain, Ice!

Wrap an ice pack in a tea towel and place it on the painful area for about 10 minutes and repeat this every few hours for the first two days after the injury.

Tip #2: Keep moving to help the groin muscle

Move Move Move…but gently

Gently move your hips as often as you can and as pain allows.

Here is a simple stretch routine that may help. If you are in acute pain, only stretch to about 70% stretch and use gentle movement to the muscle – don’t force it 🙂

Tip #3: See an osteopath 🙂

Seek help! Since there are 3 degrees to a strain, it is important to get a professional diagnosis if your pain persists. A diagnosis is necessary to determine how serious the injury may be and a medical professional can rule out other serious causes of groin pain.

It will also help you understand why your problem occurred and help prevent it from happening again.

Give us a call on 01245 522360 or book online for appointment with one of our osteopaths who can help with assessing, diagnosing, treating and advising you.