Pain can be frustrating, debilitating, and negatively impacts our way of life. On top of this, it also starts to alter our mental stability and can lead to stress and other unwarranted emotions.
“Why do I have pain?”
“Did I do damage?”
“When can I play golf again?
“Why does it hurt after ________.”
This helplessness feeling you’re dealing with is due to the fact that you don’t understand what pain is, how it occurs, or ways to deal with it.
What Is Injury?
An injury is simple to define - when the load placed on the body exceeds the load it can absorb. When the accumulation of stress acting on the body (physical, emotional, social, mental, etc…) are greater than what your body perceives it can handle, pain occurs.
We can further think of pain as the body’s alarm system.
With excessive stress, pain is the response mechanism used to alter our behavior. If we continue to add stress to the system, our alarm system becomes more sensitive and is set off more easily.
This is why pain typically starts off as an episode of “stiffness” or “tightness” after a round of golf. Over the course of time, this once minor bout can lead to full-fledged pain that prevents you from playing. If you never make the changes your body requests, stress will continue to accumulate and your alarm system becomes even more sensitive.
It’s also important to understand that pain does directly correlate with structural damage.
There are numerous research studies that have been conducted through medical imaging of healthy spines, shoulders, hips, and knees. The conclusion? They’ve found that a large percentage of these people have structural damage, whether it be labral tears, meniscus tears, herniated discs, etc.. So if there are scenarios where people present with structural damage, how come they present as asymptomatic when it comes to pain?
How Do We Get Out Of Pain?
An analogy we like to use in regards to looking at strength and tissue tolerance is by using a cup to represent our current capacities. The size of your cup determines how much stress your body can currently handle. The bigger your cup is in size, the more liquid can fill the cup. In this scenario, let’s imagine stress was the liquid being poured into the cup. Once the liquid poured into the cup exceeds the cup’s capacity, pain is the response.
With this analogy, there are two options we can choose in regards to improving tissue tolerance and mitigating the chances of pain.
The first option we can address is increasing the overall size of the cup. We can do this by gradually improving strength while increasing our range of motion capabilities.
The second is to decrease the amount of stress acting on the body. This can come through numerous avenues including, but not limited to:
modifying your golf swing
playing fewer rounds
developing a recovery and prehabilitation routine
decreasing stressful factors in other areas of your everyday life
To conclude, pain is nothing more than the opinion of your body in its perceived current state. If you’re still not sold on this idea, check out this video on how your beliefs can actually exacerbate pain.
At this point, you probably want us to tell you how to get out of pain. The honest truth, however, is that there is no one-size-fits-all model with mitigating pain levels. The mission of this blog post is to simply help you better understand what pain is and that you shouldn’t fear it. There’s always a way to decrease pain levels and even eliminate it altogether with the proper approach.
If you’re currently suffering from chronic pain, you should seek out a credible physical therapist, or other medical provider that understands movement. Please don’t wait until it becomes debilitating. Pain should be addressed at first sign so you can build a bigger cup and correct any movement limitations. A combination of these two action steps will allow you to decrease stress levels and absorb any present stressors without consequences. This strategy will you spend less time in a physical therapy clinic, and more time on the golf course!