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Resting an injury is not your solution to pain!

There are many situations where absolute rest to a particular area may hold their importance; such as recovering from large fractures or other accidents resulting in hospitalisation. This blog is not referring to those times!

How many of you have been experiencing a ‘niggle’ ? How many of you have experienced a pain when performing a particular exercise over time? How many of you have increased your levels of exercise recently and now experiencing a discomfort?

As a practicing physiotherapist, in clinic we are commonly faced with people who have been battling with their shoulder pain which got worse with time. Their knee pain which worsened over time while squatting. Their calf pain while running, their back pain while deadlifting, and the list goes on and on!

Now something in common with a lot of these people, is that they have tried resting their injury, naturally, it felt better, but as soon as they returned to their sport or training schedule or just regular activities of daily life – the pain returned!

Or maybe they have tried resting their injury, felt better, only a few months later to have the same problem come back!

Now to help you get into the correct frame of mind here, I want to ask you a few things to help you understand. If you feel like your problem is because something is too stiff or not strong enough;

Will rest make you stronger?

Will rest make you move better?

Will rest help you if you are about to dive straight back into the same scenario which got you here?

In short, the answer is probably not. Rest may temporarily allow your body to feel better; however if you haven’t addressed the underlying cause along the way – we are likely to get stuck in this cycle of pain à rest à pain. Rest may also cause for you to decondition, making your initial condition a little more tricky to manage in the long run.

I would heavily recommend the approach of modifying your painful activities, and not stopping entirely. For example:

  • If it hurts to bench press 100kgs, drop the weight down to 60kgs. Slow the movement down and really perfect your technique. Slowly build this up over time.
  • If your ankle hurts and you run 5 times a week, dial it back down to twice a week. Maybe reduce the distance you’re running and increase your cadence.
  • If your back hurts when you are sitting watching Netlfix all day; try getting up and moving more often!

What is vital for almost all injuries that I have treated, is the concept of exercise / activity modification. For example, if you have a sore shoulder, it does not mean that all forms of upper body exercise are off the cards. Yes of course you may need some specific rehab exercises to work on correcting an underlying issue, however along with this; we need to progressively load the shoulder to re encourage movement and safe healing.

What I am trying to say, is that completely resting your injury is not the solution. See a Physiotherapist who can help tailor a specific rehab program and modify your current exercise routine to help get you performing at your best, as quickly as possible.

If you are currently battling an injury or need advice on how to train around your injury / see how physiotherapy can help, please feel free to contact Isaac. He can be contacted at Health Space Clinics Kingsford on 9663 2151 or Potts Point on 8354 1534.

Author: Isaac Serhan

Isaac Serhan is a Physiotherapist at our Potts Point and Kingsford clinics. He has a main interest in the treatment of sporting and chronic injuries. He can be contacted on 8354 1534.

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