Nigel Pearson: Why the site of your pain may not be the source of your pain

    When we have pain, the usual reaction is to assume some sort of injury or issue at the site of the pain and so we normally set about getting treatment to this area to eliminate the pain.

    But this may not be the only answer to your problem.

    Treating the site of the pain is fine, but the site is not necessarily the primary source of your discomfort. Many people don’t know that a dysfunction at one joint can cause over-use at another, and eventually lead to injury.

    The body is just like a stack of joints. Each joint has a specific function and if it fails to do its job, then the joint above or below must pick up the slack. This can lead to injury.

    So, what are the functions of our various joints? The ankle’s primary job is mobility, the knee’s function is stability, the hip is concerned with mobility, the lower back’s purpose is stability and the upper back is mobility.

    If you are getting a common pain – such as knee pain, where might it be coming from? There are many potential answers to this, but it could very well be that your ankle or hips (or both!) are lacking in mobility meaning that your knee has had to compensate for this, and so resulting in knee pain.

    I regularly get asked about the difference between mobility and stability with regards to joints – mobility is the ability of the joint to move through a preferably full range of motion; stability on the other hand is the opposite.

    A stable joint needs to resist motion; not produce it. If your hips or upper back fail to move properly, your lower back will become mobile. So when your lower back is in pain, it can be due to a lack of range of motion in the hips or upper back.

    Bottom line is that if you are in pain – STOP. Pain is a sign something is wrong and you shouldn’t try to train through it. That’s why I particularly hate the sort of quotes bandied about below – they perpetuate the idea that you should be in pain in the gym.

    Let’s be clear – you shouldn’t be in pain.

    Yes, it may be uncomfortable and sore; you may feel ‘the burn’, but actual pain in any joint or muscle shouldn’t be happening!

    If an exercise hurts, then don’t do the exercise. With an appropriate gym program, you can train the joints to enhance mobility and stability and to then eliminate any joint pain you may be experiencing.

    As always please get in touch if you have any questions – I’m more than happy to help.


    READ ALSO – Nigel Pearson: Aim for consistent rather than perfect progress

    If you are in pain - STOP!