We all will have to deal with this at some point. You may have some pain, but still want to workout. Should you? Can you? And if so, how?

  • Reduce the ROM
    By working a shorter range of motion (ROM) you can typically reduce symptoms. If you have pain, regardless of load and volume, in a certain part of the range of motion this works well. If you have pain in the bottom of the squat, try a box squat and see how you feel.
  • Reduce the load
    The key is to bring down the weight to a point JUST BELOW your pain threshold. If you have pain lifting 50#, can can lift 45# without pain: exercise for a few sessions at 45# and if all goes well, try to go back to 50#. Then slowly progress from there. This works well if you have pain during a specific lift
  • Reduce volume: less reps or less sets
    This works well for situations where you do not have pain during working out, but you have pain the next day. For example: if you have been doing 5sets of 5 reps with deadlifts, go back to 3 sets of 5 reps with same weight. If not pain next day, do one more session at 3 sets. Still no pain: got to 4 sets. if no pain after 2 sessions, go back to 5 sets. Keep monitoring how you feel during workout and for 24 hours afterwards
  • Slow down the tempo
    Often times you can develop pain when you go too fast with your lifts. You may not feel what part of the lift gives you discomfort. You may be compensating by going faster, but over time this can lead to injury. If you have any kind of tendonopathy, tempo changes can help your pain. If you have pain with faster reps, this may be an indication of pain generated from a tendon. Slow down your movement, focus on proper form and see how this affects your pain

Its NOT “No Pain, No gain” and its also NOT “Pain, so stop”. Modify your workout and see how your symptoms respond. But keep training, unless pain gets progressively worse

Pieter L. de Smidt, PT, DPT

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