Pain Kills Performance
Katelyn Sander

Pain Kills Performance

Healthy View

Written by: Dr. Mehran Tabrizi, Chiropractor, Cambridge Club

With the notion of 'no pain, no gain', pain is almost glorified as a rite of passage or necessity in performance, but this is seldom the case.

When we think about performance, we are able to be at our best when we are in the flow state. The presence of pain or injury disrupts that optimal state; however, there are other factors that can knock us off our game and likewise affect that sub-threshold of pain.

In minimizing our risk of pain and injury and maximizing our recovery and performance, there are a few areas of training and rehabilitation to consider...

1. Tissue organization

What we mean by this is maintaining tissue health post-injury or excessive usage (overtraining) in lining up the sarcomeres. We want to make sure that those muscle fibres are aligning for optimal function moving forward. As motor neurons do not function at the same level with scar tissue, you want to maintain that muscle recruitment and brain-body interface, with a load that is appropriate for the phase of rehab.

2. Optimal range of motion

When our range of motion is reduced, we do not have optimal access to strength and are at greater risk of injury or re-injury. Our bodies start to compensate for a lack of range in one area with increased mobility in another and can throw the system out of sync.

3. Neurological freedom

There is an aspect of this that is developing the mindset to adapt; but, it is also about teasing out the psycho-emotional aspects of pain. While the physiological components of inflammation and nociception are part of the pain experience, there are also the other stressors of life that are all poured into the same bucket and affect the subsystem. Those deadlines at work or the fight with your partner all lower the threshold for pain and make it more difficult to overcome.

4. Distributed strength

Muscle imbalances can create the same issues and susceptibility to injury as we discussed with range of motion in terms of compensation. However, when it comes to pain specifically, it can dampen muscle recruitment of the posterior chain of the lower extremities, depending how much the brain goes into protection, affecting the ability to propel forward.

While there may be instances where pushing through pain is advantageous, whether for survival or in the name of performance, if ignoring becomes a usual strategy, it can have catastrophic effects on both performance and health. When we consistently ignore pain, we change the architecture of our brain and the whole system becomes affected when that central sensitization begins.

Continually trying to power through causes the mechanisms to overlap and makes treatment more difficult. Book your performance session with Dr. T. to implement these strategies and rethink your pain with an innovative approach to performance.

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