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Ouch! Is Playing Through the Pain Okay?

Aug 02, 2017 02:00PM ● Published by Becca Newell

By Becca Newell

Sore muscles are something most of us experience when we first start up a gym routine or after a particularly intense exercise session. A little post-workout aching is to be expected—and perfectly normal. But when does pain indicate something more significant? What if you’re injured? How important is it to rest? Is medical attention always required?

To help navigate the often confusing path of pain, we turned to local medical professionals for their advice.


The Body’s Ability to Self-Heal



The body is well-equipped in its ability to recognize an injury and repair itself. Upon sensing an injury, the body’s immune system sends cells to help clean up the damage and kill any foreign cells, like bacteria, says Executive Vice-President Kamran A. Saraf, M.D., of Kure Pain Management in Annapolis. Those cells also help to rebuild the injury with healthy tissue.

The length of the healing process—between two months to a year—differs depending on the type of injury. And, Saraf adds, there are some parts of the body, like the heart and brain that cannot be rebuilt.



The Three Phases of Healing



Acute/Inflammatory Phase:

Occurs up to 72 hours after injury • Represented by swelling, redness, inflammation, and warmth around the injured area • May result in loss of function or limited movements • Rest, gentle movements, and physical therapy recommended

Sub-Acute/Reparative Phase:

Lasts for up to six weeks after injury • The “repair” stage, represented by the new growth of scar tissue to reconstruct damage and decrease inflammation • The new connective tissue is fragile; too much stress can prolong recovery

Remodeling Phase:

The newly formed tissue is now relatively strong and can withstand stress; mobility work is crucial to restore proper function of healing tissue • Expect elasticity to be limited; end ranges of motion may result in pain or restriction • The length of this phase varies depending on the injury and one’s healing potential


Exercising in Pain



Experiencing a tightness or soreness while exercising isn’t exactly normal, but it’s not an immediate cause for concern. “Mild pain during exercise may just mean you are not performing the exercise properly and an expert should be sought out to teach proper technique,” says Orthopedic Surgeon Benjamin Petre, M.D., of Anne Arundel Medical Group Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists in Odenton.

Similarly, muscle aches and pains after a workout are to be expected, particularly if it’s a new exercise regimen. DOMS—which stands for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness—is a common post-workout occurrence that causes discomfort in muscles as the body adapts to the added stress. “[The soreness is] similar to how you would feel the day after you hit the slopes for the first time of the year,” says Lead Physical Therapist Dr. Katherine Rainey, of Advanced Rehab Center in Annapolis. “The best thing to do is keep moving and stretch.”

However, if you feel a sharp or stabbing pain during light to moderate exercise, you should stop immediately and consult with your doctor.

“Pain is typically a signal from your body telling you something is wrong,” Chiropractor Dr. Joseph Kling, of Effective Integrative Healthcare in Crofton.

The same is true for pain that causes significant joint swelling or bruising, or pain that lasts for several days. Continuing to exercise through any of these indications of an injury could elongate the healing process or prevent the injured body part from healing at all.

“The normal rehabilitation process after injury will cause discomfort, but it should not be excruciatingly painful,” says Saraf. “In this situation, ‘no pain, no gain’ does not apply!”


Exercising After an Injury



Continuing to exercise after the treatment of a mild sprain or strain is often approved by medical professionals.

“For example, a Grade 1 ankle sprain can be taped properly and the player can be allowed to return to their sport right then,” says Petre.

It’s still important though to avoid stressing the affected tissue since—depending on the severity of the sprain—it could prolong recovery. Additionally, it’s important to heat or ice the sprain. Heat should be used for tightness, soreness, and aching; ice is for swelling and sharper pains, according to Kling.

“Ice constricts blood vessels and helps to reduce swelling and inflammation,” he says. “The heat dilates the blood vessels which helps to loosen the soft tissue.”

Even fitness fanatics suffering from a more severe injury will most likely gain approval for a specific set of exercises.

“A lot of injuries can be managed without having to completely stop exercising,” says Kling.

Petre gives an example of a broken leg that prohibits someone from walking.

“I will still allow them to swim laps—with a pull buoy and without pushing off the wall during turns—to [maintain] a cardiovascular workout and upper body strength,” he explains.

Similarly, recent research has suggested that mobilizing the joints and muscles following an injury is key to the healing process. “[It] maintains good oxygenation of the tissue,” says Rainey.

It’s important, however, to seek advice from a physical therapist as to what movements are safe and beneficial.

“The extent of the injury, location, and tissues involved will determine what physical exercises are safe to continue,” Rainey adds. “When acutely injured the goal is to steer clear of specific movements that will aggravate the injured tissue and delay the healing response.”

In addition to preventing further tissue damage and inevitably restoring tissue strength, physical therapy will also help to prevent atrophy and weakness of muscles.


Exercises for Back Pain



As we age, our back muscles become weaker, which inevitably increases the incidence of injuries in that area.

“Low back pain is one of the most common injuries of this day and age,” says Rainey, who recommends regular exercise to prevent pain. “Making sure you lead an active lifestyle … will greatly mitigate your risk of having low back pain.”

The main focus of exercise should be core stability and flexibility, focusing on the abdomen and back muscles that support the lumbar spine. Other areas that deserve attention include hip mobility and glute strength.

“Strengthening them will give the spine more support,” says Saraf.

Seeking guidance from a physical therapist or personal trainer is important—incorrect form is a major culprit of back pain, as is poor posture, and can greatly increase the risk of an injury.

The Myth of Broken Toe



We’re all familiar with the theory that nothing can be done for a broken toe, but that’s far from reality.

“If not treated correctly, serious complications may develop,” says Rainey.

It is true, however, that some toes are more important than others—while the big toe often requires treatment, fixing the fourth and fifth toes often relies on a little tape, according to Petre.

Since the big toe bears the brunt of our weight, a walking boot may be required if a fracture is present. The smaller toes, if fractured, can be immobilized through taping. A splint or cast may be required to ensure immobilization and, in some cases, the broken bone may necessitate pinning to heal properly. Additionally, impact cardio, like running, or exercises that cause the toes to flex should be avoided.

“The tissue can’t heal if it is constantly moving around,” says Kling. “Modifying exercises, like stable resistance exercise or biking, can be done as long as it is not aggravating the toe.”

Still, medical attention should be sought in any situation where fractured or broken toes are suspected, especially if there is significant sign of deformity, such as the toe pointing in the wrong direction.

“Our toes are one of the most used and abused parts of our body,” says Saraf. “If they are not properly fixed, the broken bone may fuse the wrong way and may cause lifelong pain. It is definitely not something to ignore.”

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The Look, Today fitness exercise what's up? healthy living recovery August Annapolis 2017 August Eastern Shore 2017
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    Brush up on your callbacks and get ready to do the Time Warp again!! TAP proudly presents Richard...


  • The Effect

    10/21/2017
    07:30PM

    Connie and Tristan can’t hide how they feel around each other: Hearts thumping, sleepless nights,...


  • Looking for ghost tours in Maryland? This year, instead of heading to the usual Haunted House ful...


  • Special Historic Hauntings

    10/21/2017
    07:30PM — 09:15PM

    Seek the spirits in one of Annapolis' oldest buildings, the Sands House. Rarely open to the publi...


  • Rock in your seats and dance in the aisles to the funky rock sounds of the Paul Reed Smith Band p...


  • The Adventures of Peter Pan at Synetic Theater

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM — 10:00PM

    “All the world is made of faith, trust, and pixie dust.” Take flight to Neverland with Peter P...


  • Rik Emmett of Triumph

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    Rik Emmett gained international recognition as the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist with Triumph....


  • Colin Hay

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    Fierce Mercy is an epic, cinematic step forward from singer-songwriter Colin Hay, most beloved fo...


  • Intimate Apparel

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    Wearing her heart on her sleeve while sewing intimates for her clientele, Esther is the talented ...


  • Twelve Angry Jurors

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    A 19-year-old man has been charged with stabbing his father to death, and his future is now in th...


  • The Woman in Black

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    The story begins with an unusual request; a lawyer hires an actor to tutor him in the art of stor...


  • Come celebrate the late dynamic trumpeter, NEA Jazz Master, and 1990 Kennedy Center Honoree Dizzy...


  • Julius Caesar

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    When an elected leader is no longer trusted, where is the line between patriotism and personal am...


  • 33 Variations

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    A musicologist trying to accomplish her life’s work in the face of a debilitating disease and an ...


  • The Color Purple

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    The Color Purple is the 2016 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical Revival! Hailed as “a direct hit...


  • Safe as Houses

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM — 10:00PM

    In this new play presented by Pinky Swear Productions, a suburban family struggles to survive bot...


  • Shakespeare in Love

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM

    “Shall I compare thee to a something something… mummers play?” And so begins one of Shakespeare’s...


  • “An Evening of Unexpected Delights” is a benefit for The Journey Home, a local nonprofit working ...


  • Special Historic Hauntings

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM — 09:45PM

    Seek the spirits in one of Annapolis' oldest buildings, the Sands House. Rarely open to the publi...


  • Columbia Pro Cantare Sings Carmina Burana

    10/21/2017
    08:00PM — 10:00PM

    You’ve heard Carmina Burana before, maybe at times without even knowing it: The work’s driving rh...


  • Rock 'N' Bowl

    10/21/2017
    09:00PM — 12:00AM

    Every Friday and Saturday night, Choptank Bowling Center hosts Rock ’N’ Bowl. Unlimited bowling, ...


  • Mark Desrocher Live Music

    10/21/2017
    09:00PM

    Live Music


  • Greg Phillips at Blackwall Hitch

    10/21/2017
    09:30PM — 12:00AM

    Join us for a live performance from Greg Phillips Saturday, October 21st at 9:30pm!


  • Moon Hooch & Marco Benevento

    10/21/2017
    10:00PM

    If any band is a poster child for turning the power of positive thoughts and intention into reali...


  • DJ Draco

    10/21/2017
    10:00PM

    Enjoy live music by DJ Draco at O'Brien's!


  • Mike McHenry

    10/21/2017
    10:00PM

    Enjoy live music by Mike McHenry at Middleton Tavern!


 

 

Towne Social