The Culture of Pain

If you’re an athlete, you know that playing a sport hurts.  You get bumps, bruises, scratches, soreness, pinching, burning, scrapes, and the list goes on.  To some extent, you have to tough out the pain and manage it as best as you can.  However, there does come a point when pain is no longer simply pain.  When this happens, it necessitates the attention of medical professionals and can no longer just be “managed” within an athlete’s normal routine.  The problem remains, though, that the difference between “hurting” and being truly injured is a very, very fine line.

A recent edition of “Outside the Lines” on ESPN detailed the current culture of pain in the NFL, with players attempting to manage all kinds of pain and injuries.  So, how do you know when too much is too much?

Pain can be defined as an unpleasant feeling or discomfort.  Injury, on the other hand, can be defined as damage or harm caused to the structure or function of the body.  To some degree, it’s normal to feel pain during exercise because you are pushing the physical limits of your body.  Ask yourself the following questions to determine if what you are feeling is “just pain,” or if it is, in fact, something more:

  • Does the pain continue after you stop exercising?
  • Does the pain persist over weeks or months?
  • Does the pain stop you from completing an action normally?
  • Is the pain localized in one area of your body?
  • Does the pain get worse each time you exercise?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, it may be a good idea to seek help from a medical professional.  Remember, pain is a natural result of hard work, injury is not.

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