Reader to Reader: Should I run through the pain?

Is there any truth in the 'if it isn't hurting, it isn't working' mantra? Here's what you thought


Posted: 31 July 2007
by Catherine Lee

Learning how to manage injury – and the threat of injury – is an unavoidable side-effect of being a runner, but how can you tell whether the sudden onset of pain will pass in a couple of miles or is a sign of something more serious? Is the only option to give up and go home, or should you struggle on regardless?

"I have suffered with patellar tendinitis for a while now and have being thinking, is pain just a sensation? When I perform certain movements (like squats) I get a pain but it does not limit my mobility. Surely if you have an injury that is just painful you can carry on, and only if you have an injury that limits mobility you should stop? How do we know pain isn’t a good thing?" livetorun

Your best answers

So detailed and philosophical were your answers to this week’s question that the traditional Reader to Reader advice-giving format just wouldn’t do them justice. Nevertheless, we’ve done our best to summarise the main points from the thread and we think you'll agree the result makes for a fascinating read. Don't even think about clicking elsewhere - pull up a pew, then get exercising your grey matter by joining the debate...

  • Recognise the distinction between pain and discomfort
    I think it’s worth recognising the difference between pain and discomfort on all levels. What many people describe as pain is actually severe discomfort. Pain is a nerve response to damage that is occurring, discomfort is not. Pain is designed to stop you in your tracks from continuing the same action so as not to cause further inflammation, deterioration etc. Discomfort is when you overreach, stretch yourself, or push yourself beyond the norm etc. Pain takes your breath away. If you are in pain you will not be able to continue the same action at the same level of effort regardless of what that activity is. If you can, you are not in pain, you are just experiencing discomfort, whether mild or severe. Depending on the biological process causing that discomfort, this could in time lead to pain - it's then that you should stop the action, investigate and treat the cause. As a runner, discomfort helps us to improve and keep going, get faster, run further, without being in some form of discomfort we would never improve, but pain is the result of something else, something that is going wrong in our bodies and if you are really in pain, this should not be ignored. – fatgirlslim
  • Conceding to your physical limitations is not a cop-out
    Be very careful about which injuries you choose to try and run through. If you ignore a serious injury, eventually something will fail in an irreparable way. It's one thing to be “hard”, and be able to ignore the kind of pain that is transitory but ignoring a serious pain that is trying to tell you that something is wrong is a form of denial and can have serious consequences. Pain is not 'just an emotion'. It is one of a number of subtle signals that your body provides which, if you heed them appropriately, will allow you to bring your body to its full athletic potential. If you choose to ignore them - and this is your choice - you will live with the consequences, which could include a seriously limited capacity for performance, weight bearing, or basic movement. We're all runners here, and I doubt there are any of us who haven't turned a niggle into a proper injury because we thought, “oh, it's nothing, I can run through it”. But because of this, and the time off it inevitable causes, we learn when to listen to the warning signs. Simply trying to be a hard-case won't stop your body breaking down. It'll do it anyway. – Slowboy
  • Use a scoring system to keep things in perspective
    My advice is to rate pain on a scale of one to 10. Anything up to three or four and I'd train as normal providing it starts to go away within a week. Five to six I'd train gently, seven take a break, and eight upwards see a physio, doctor or whoever is appropriate. Another thing I bear in mind is what type of pain it is. For a stitch, bloomin’ well ignore it as best you can; for a muscle pull or ache, work gently through it. For knee pain, work through it providing it doesn't get any worse as in fact, it should start to ease off over time; for a ligament, tendon or bone, be very careful indeed. – Little Lizard
  • High tolerance levels are no solution to the reality of injury
    Pain is a physical sensation, not an emotion. It's hardwired to be aversive for a very good reason - it stops us damaging ourselves. There are various disorders where people have much reduced or no pain sensation, and they do themselves a lot of damage. I've got an unusually high pain threshold and this is actually quite annoying. I tend to get injuries which worsen because I don't notice them soon enough. I have to train myself to pay attention to little things and fix them before they stop me running. My performance also suffers because I'm not so good at noticing when I need more water or food, or too cold. The crucial factor seems to be control/expectancy, rather than being 'used' to it. – Duck Girl
  • Overriding your neurochemical system goes against its primary purpose
    Pain is a neurochemical response to an injury of tissue. Pain would not occur if everything was working as it should. In cases of minor injury and minor inflammation, it is quite possible to school yourself to ignore the pain. However, the very act of ignoring your pain can put you at further risk of injury for the simple reason that pain is there to alert you to the fact that something should be allowed to heal before proceeding. The way we 'control' pain is based on the theory that for pain to travel along a nerve, it has to go through a 'gate'. In order to 'ease' pain or 'control' it, the idea is to close the gate and prevent the signal going to the brain. The way we 'close' the gate is by stimulating the nerve so the pain is 'avoided'. For example, if you knock your shin against a chair leg, it will hurt. If you then rub the shin this stimulates the nerves and closes the gate where the pain impulse is going to the brain. The pain is then stopped or at least lessened. When we are 'learning to ignore' pain we're not really solving the problem, we're actually contributing to it because we're likely to make things worse. – Cath.
  • Dwelling on the negative can undermine recovery
    In my experience, 'pain' is definitely a description of the relationship you assume with the sensations you are getting. I had a hip flexor injury for a year and though there was a 'physiological cause' the worry that I had about it exacerbated the injury so it rumbled on for ages. When I tackled it with a physio, his position was that most injuries are caused through misuse and resting is an unsatisfactory answer because once you go back to using it you just cause it again. He thought the best strategy was to run with it but crucially to also let go of the idea of it as a problem and a threat. I'd therefore say, adopt a lightness of attitude to the injury - assume it will get better (I visualised my hip flexor loosening as I became less anxious about it), treat runs like tests of how to re-educate your use of your muscles so as not to hurt yourself, massage the area and keep a diary of how much discomfort you feel throughout the run and later. – Wedders
  • Responding to pain is innate to the human condition
    It's good to push yourself and mental strength is important. But, pain is your body's way of telling you something's wrong. For example, babies are often given a heel prick test when they're born - the natural, innate response is for the baby to pull their foot away, in other words away from the source of the pain. This is before their behaviour could possibly have been influenced by others and they obviously have no understanding of verbal communication. In the case of running, if it hurts, keeps hurting, and things start getting swollen, your body is trying to warn you something isn't right and you would do well to heed that warning. Push yourself yes. Break yourself or prevent you from doing the thing you love just sounds foolish to me. – Pootleflump
  • Stepping outside your comfort zone is a key element of training
    Pain is a warning. It’s a natural product of evolution as those who choose to ignore it completely ultimately die out. It can be useful to be able to "ignore" some pain - or rather be aware of it and choose to continue your activity for a while – as this is the very basis of progressive overload, the underlying mechanism for most training regimens. The trick is to know how far over the line you can go before you inflict too much damage for the body to be able to naturally repair. – Dad Of Two
  • Conserve your energy by shortening your stride
    I recommend taking a shorter stride and a quicker cadence when hill climbing. This makes hills a lot easier and less tiring, enabling you to run freely when you get to the top. Taking larger strides fatigues me quickly and makes my hamstrings ache for days! – Rach E
  • Pain operates on a subconscious level to preserve our well-being too
    Pain is a gift. In my opinion, there is no way pain is a product of evolution, it’s just too sophisticated a warning system. Without pain, life is unbearable. Without pain, you would not blink every few seconds, your eyes would dry out and you'd go blind. Without pain, you would walk the exact same way, step after step, never performing the subtle shifts and alterations in stride length and pattern that you do (although you don’t consciously know it). You'd develop blisters, but never limp. Those blisters would get infected, and wear down to the bone. Without pain, you'd cut yourself, burn yourself and damage yourself. Your joints, your skin would wear down. You would self-destruct. – flyaway
  • It comes down to the age-old 'fight or flight' scenario
    The human body is possible of dealing with a much higher level of pain in emergency "fight or flight" situations than it would day to day. My understanding of this is that increased levels of adrenalin and other such neurotransmitters lead to a flooding of the pain receptors such that the pain signals are less likely to get through. The body can (either through design or evolution) temporarily suspend the regulatory governor of pain in order to allow actions more important to our immediate survival (such as fight or flight). And if one is able to self-induce this sympathetic nervous response then it is possible to go beyond the normal limits imposed by pain. Hence, during a race, whilst our sympathetic system is in full flow, we are focusing on reaching the finish line as quickly as possible, and can essentially ignore the pain from our legs. – Dad Of Two
  • Pain is too complex a concept to meaningfully compare experiences
    I’d argue very strongly that the varied use of the word ‘pain’ to cover all of these completely different experiences is a reflection of the inadequacy of our language rather than any universal truth about the experience of pain. Running is an interesting arena to explore this idea. Pushing yourself to the limit of your endurance and capacity to sustain exercise can also be described as self-induced pain in pursuit of a goal. In my life I’ve experienced acute physical pain of broken limbs, punctured flesh and tearing muscle. I dealt with this pain as I’d been taught to deal with it from an ex-Sergeant Major dad – I dealt with it stoically, with as little noise and fuss as possible and made jokes about it to the people who came to my aid. No doubt I gave the impression that I had a high pain threshold. Of anyone thought that they’d be completely wrong - I was in very real agony, but I chose not to show it. I’ve also experienced chronic pain that lasted almost a year after an injury. This pain was there 24 hours a day. It intruded into my sleep, it prevented me concentrating, it was a constant nagging part of my consciousness and accompanied me wherever I travelled. I’m not sure I dealt with this pain as stoically as the acute pain. I’m also not sure that you could meaningfully compare the experiences or use the same inadequate word to describe how both experiences actually felt – Corinth
  • Don’t forget why you run
    All of us ignore pain from time to time - when we have a 'bad' run, or get a stitch or something. The art lies in knowing when fleeting, transitional pain, becomes more serious. If you're getting pain and discomfort a lot, even if it is at a low level, your body is certainly trying to tell you something. Tendonitis is known for its sneaky onset, and when ignored, for resulting in a partial or complete tear of the tendon in question. Ruptured tendons are not fun, and require surgery to fix. That's a long time with no running. Ultimately, whatever your theory about pain and how the mind responds to it - it is much more fun running without pain so it's well worth trying to do something about it! – JoTheLibrarian

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Discuss this article

Hello all,
After thinking long and hard for a while about pain and what it really is, I have a few things I would like to say and you can comment on my opinions. I have suffered with pattalear tendonitis for a while now and have being thinking that is pain just a sensation. I mean when I perform ceartian movements like squats I get a pain but it does not limit my mobility. I know and can draw a fine line between injurys that just cause pain and injurys that limit mobility. But surely if you have an injury that is just painfull you can carry on but if you have a injury that just limits mobility then you will have to stop. After all how do we know pain isnt a good thing we just assume pain is bad as we think it causes pain, this may be because we have learnt to take pain as a bad thing.

Id like to hear your ideas and opinions?
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 18:37

Pain is weakness leaving the body.














Sometimes it takes it's bloody time though!
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 20:30

I agree, but surely carrying on pain makes it get worse and then you can carry on through that. I don't see the problem with pain only if it limits mobility.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 22:04

err... because after a while something goes 'twang' and breaks in a major and terminal way and when you speak to the docs they say 'of course we can't fix it - why did you keep going if it hurt so much?'

My boss has just been in hospital to have his ankle fused, because he injured it playing football when he was 17, kept playing on it till it was completely knackered by the time he was 19, and has been in constant pain ever since. For just over 20 years. He now has zero mobility in it, none at all. It had to be done because the effect of limping on it was wrecking his knees and hips, and the alternative was amputation.

Be VERY VERY careful about which injuries you choose to try to run through, and be aware that you'll have to live with the consequences.

That said - it's your body. Sometimes you just know you have to run.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:09

Pain is a warning. Say I get a painful knee, it's a bit swollen but I could still run if I wanted to ignore it. So I do, it stays swollen, the cartilage softens and becomes more damaged - the pain gets worse but I still ignore the warning. Eventually I'm going to find my mobility impaired, probably permanently.
Yes, pain can be ignored and if you were a caveman being chased by a sabre toothed tiger you should indeed run provided your mobility isn't impaired. That's the environment this whole pain warning thing was designed for.
Of course not ignoring it makes you sit and think about it and that's what leads to threads like this. :-)
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:11

You don't 'learn' about pain - it is innate.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:13

I disagree, pain is a sensation, sensations are both good and bad. The mind can train to thing that ceartian sensations are bad, and because we are told that pain is meant to hurt we thing it causes us pain. For example some people arent ticklish, i think this is because their mind is trained to not allow nerves to feel the sensation of being tickled. For example the brain has trained their nerves to think being tickled is normal therefore that person isnt ticklish. Like some people have higher pain thresholds, this is because their brain is trained to take pain as a different sensation as too people who have a lower pain threshold. Pain thresholds have nothing to do with muscle.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:18

livetorun, you are absolutley free to have your own opinion on this.






Hope you enjoy wheelchair racing.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:22

No, your quite wrong livetorun the pain still exists it is a bad feeling - it's how you cope with this bad feeling which varies.

Babies used to have their arses whacked to get them to breath once upon a time - they've just emerged from the womb... when did they get a chance to learn that pain is 'bad'?


Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:29

how do you know that the babies did not feel the pain?
Thanks, but no thanks slowboy i prefer racing on my legs at the moment.

PTI's have taught me that pain is weakness leaving the body, and I firmly believe in this!
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:40

I think you can learn to ignore pain - but in the case of a running injury you'd be silly to try and ignore it so you could carry on running unless you knew you weren't aggravating the injury.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:41

LTR - my comment was to try to say that if you just ignore a serious injury eventually something will fail, terminally, in an irreparable way. Then your choices will be seriously limited.

It's one thing to be hard, and able to ignore the kind of pain that is transitory.

It's possible to be hard enough to train yourself to ignore the kind of serious pain that is trying to tell you that something is wrong, and is getting worse. It's a form of denial, and it can have serious consequences.

The choice is yours.

But, in answer to your question - no, pain is not 'just an emotion'. It is one of a number of subtle signals that your body provides which, if you heed them appropriately, will allow you to bring your body to it's full athletic potential.

If you choose to ignore them - and this is your choice, and it may be a valid one - you will live with the consequences, which may be a seriously limited capacity for performance, weight bearing, or basic movement.

We're all runners, I doubt there are any of us who haven't turned a niggle into a proper injury because we thought, oh, it's nothing, I can run through it. But because of this, and the time off it inevitable causes, we learn when to listen to the warning signs.

The mental attitude you seem to be actively trying to develop is one that may (and it is only 'may' - nothing is certain) result in long term physical damage and eventual disability.

If this makes me sound soft to you - fine. Like I've said, it's your choice. But I would strongly advise against taking the viewpoint you seem to be espousing. Simply trying to be a hard-case won't stop your body breaking down. It'll do it anyway.

Your call.
Posted: 19/07/2007 at 23:53


Do2
As has been said.. pian is a warning - its a natural product of evolution (ducks out of the way of missiles from any Creationists out there) as those who choose to ignore it completely ultimately die out.

I agree though, that it can be useful to be able to "ignore" some pain - or rather be aware of it and choose to continue your activity for a while. This is the very basis of progressive over load isn't it - the underlying mechanism for most training regimens.

The trick is to know how far over the line you can go before you create too much damage for the body to be ablew to naturally repair ( and overcompensate enough for physiological development.)


To go back to your question as originally worded though... No. Pain is not an emotion. Pain is a message, your reaction to it will include an emotion.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:08

live to run - you appear to be getting all philosophical on us. It's only Thurs night! :)

It's good to push yourself and mental strength is important. But, as Slowboy has said, pain is your body's way of telling you something's wrong. For example; babies are often given a heel prick test when they're born - the natural, innate response is for the baby to pull their foot away, in other words away from the source of the pain. This is before their behaviour could possibly have been influenced by others and they obviously have no understanding of verbal communication.

In the case of running, if it hurts, keeps hurting, and things start getting swollen, your body is trying to warn you something isn't right and you would do well to heed that warning. Push yourself yes. Break yourself or prevent you from doing the thing you love just sounds foolish to me.

That's my pennies worth at least. I'm off to bed. Night.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:11

Its like those fillums when there's a special forces guy who shows how hard he is by holding his hand over the flame of a lighter and not flinching.

Well done mate you are well hard.

But I'm guessing that once the shock and awe have died down you won't be playing the piano for a few weeks.

Pain is the bodies way of alerting you to danger - this weakness leaving the body thing sounds like far eastern mystical nonsense to be honest.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:23

I understand and thanks for your opinions. These are my opinions, and some of them I don't believe in. I do ruin through pain, but I dont completley ignore it. It is just that for a while now I have being thinking if pain is a sensation then why do we not like it, we could learn for it not to affect us.

Anyway thanks for your input guys, feel free to write more, i find this quite a intresting topic. It may just be me having a hard army head and trying to reject the pain, but as i said just my thoughts.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:26

I understand and thanks for your opinions. These are my opinions, and some of them I don't believe in. I do ruin through pain, but I dont completley ignore it. It is just that for a while now I have being thinking if pain is a sensation then why do we not like it, we could learn for it not to affect us.

Anyway thanks for your input guys, feel free to write more, i find this quite a intresting topic. It may just be me having a hard army head and trying to reject the pain, but as i said just my thoughts.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:26

Pain is a physical sensation, not an emotion. It's hardwired to be aversive, for a very good reason - it stops us damaging ourselves. There are various disorders where people have much reduced or no pain sensation, & they do themselves a lot of damage - for example leprosy.

I've got a weird (oftenest unusually high) pain threshold (my brain's wired up a bit odd), & this is actually quite annoying. I tend to get injuries which get worse than they should because I don't notice them, so I have to train myself to pay attention to little things & fix them before they stop me running. My performance also suffers because I'm not so good at noticing when I need more water or food, or too cold. It is really annoying when I manage to slice my legs by running through scratchy bushes or stinging nettles, & end up with muddy scratches which need loads of cleaning & sometimes get infected (and look stupid or alarming to housemates). I'm way lazier about stretching than I should be, but although short term it does not matter, then if I don't stretch then I get injured & have to stop to stop myself doing more damage even if I could carry on (& have to be extra-careful about returning too early). High pain thresholds are not always a good thing. I broke my arm pre-school & no-one realised for a few days (& my mum's a Health Visitor so she should be able to spot one!), & I've probably broken ribs a few times without anyone noticing.

Why some people aren't ticklish - it's a combination of physiological & psychological factors. Physiologically some people are unusually reactive to light pressure. Psychologically, the crucial factor seems to be control / expectancy, rather than being 'used' to it. You can't tickle yourself because you are in control.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:28

Don't know about "weakness leaving the body" being a far eastern mystical thing.

But I've seen it on the back of a No Fear T-Shirt, if that counts ;)
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:30

I would be interested to see the reaction of a patient with chronic rheumatoid arthritis if i told them the pain in their hands was just "weakness leaving their body"!

The far eastern thing was inspired by Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu lifting the brazier of hot coals btw!
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:33


Do2
Livetorun - had to chuckle at your typo in your last post...

I do ruin through pain

Lets hope it doesn't turn out to be too literal!

Gnight.


Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:38

I think there is pain and then there is pain.

Pain from an injury is clearly telling you to rest so that the injury can heal. But there is also the kind of pain you might get whilst doing a hard speed session - and this type of pain you can push through.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:43

Pain, is a neurochemical response to an injury of tissue. Pain would not occur if everything was working as it should. Trust me. I've seen and experienced pain at it's utmost.

In cases of minor injury and minor inflammation and healing processes, it is quite possible to school oneself to ignore the pain (I'll explain this in a second). However, the very act of ignoring one's pain can put one at further risk of injury. For the simple reason that pain is there to alert you to the fact that something is up and should be looked at/allowed to heal etc before proceeding.

So... how do we ignore pain...? It's very easy. If you load up google and stick in the search terms "melzack & wall" you will come out with about a hundred million hits on the "gate control" theory of pain.

Basically, if something happens to us, pain is transmitted along a nerve fibre to the brain and the brain is asked to recognise it as pain... in order that we STOP DOING whatever it is that caused the pain in the first place. Did you see that...? STOP DOING WHAT CAUSED IT.

Now... the way we 'control' pain or actually ignore it is based on the theory that for pain to travel along a nerve, it has to go through a 'gate'. (Bear with me here, it's a metaphorical gate, not a field gate!) So in order to 'ease' pain or 'control' it... the idea is to close the gate to prevent the signal going to the brain. The way we 'close' the gate is by stimulating the nerve and making it so that the pain is 'avoided' if you like.

For example, if you knock your shin against a chair leg... it will hurt. If you then rub the shin... this stimulates the nerves and closes the gate where the pain impluse is going to the brain, and the pain is then stopped or at least lessened.

So, when we are 'learning to ignore' pain - we're not really solving the problem. We're actually contributing more to it because we're likely to make things worse, without actually FEELING it because we became so good at closing the pain-control gate.
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 00:52

erm so to answer the title question... no, it's not just an emotion...

Posted: 20/07/2007 at 01:06

Livetorun

I agree with all the posters who say that pain can be a warning

There is a big difference between running thru the pain of sore muscles, complaining joints and running when you have a persistent localised tenderness in tendon/joint/ligament.

Deciding between the two I find tricky. I have struggled with shin splints and done the 'perhaps I'm just copping out and a wimp' theory. Pushing myself on due to frustration just set me back though. The answer for me has been to push on even if a bit sore but not overdo it and then to rest up and recover before going out again.

I know you're in the forces - just bear in mind that their job is too push and push to find the man that has endurance/mental power /physical fitness etc but in doing so they probably need to weed out by provoking injury. So remember that you are just a body being tested - don't rely on them to look after you, so much as to test you to see if you break. You don't want that to happen so bear it in mind




Posted: 20/07/2007 at 07:28

Pain is a gift.

What a stupid thing to say, you're thinking. Well, I dont believe so. Dad of Two is wrong, IMHO; there is no way pain is a product of evolution. Its just too sophisticated a warning system. Its so amazingly complex; the same nerves carry the warm, soft, pleasant feelings and also carry the sharp, stabbing, unpleasant feelings. Its amazing that such complexity seems so simple.

Pain is a warning. Without pain, life is unbearable. Without pain you would not blink every few seconds, your eyes would dry out and you'd go blind.
Without pain, you would walk the exact same way, step after step, never performing the subtle shifts and alterations in stride length and pattern that you do (although you dont concisously know it). You'd develop blisters, but never limp. Those blisters would get infected, wear down to the bone, and your toes would steadily resorb.
Without pain, you'd cut yourself, burn yourself and damage yourself. Your joints, your skin would wear down. You would self-destruct.

For proof, look to leprosy. Leprosy destroys nerves, leaving the part of the body that should be innervated, unable to feel anything. Thats why lepers end up with stubs instead of fingers and toes, and why they go blind. This is also why the rate of amputations among diabetics is so enormous - the nerves are damamged, and they die.

In the 1960s, the US government invested over $1,000,000 trying to develop an artificial pain system. The project failed. They could not even get close.

THANK GOD FOR PAIN!
Posted: 20/07/2007 at 09:09

You had to have been drinking when you posted this?

This must just be foolish bravado.

Like everyone says pain is there as a warning, discomfort must be overcome at times in order to improve but real pain almost always means something is wrong. Unless you are being cheased by something that would like to eat you running should be avoided.

Having said that I read most of the posts so you got my attention.


Posted: 20/07/2007 at 13:28

For me it's not an emotion. I've had pain for the last 6 months and it's bliddy annoying. I suppose the emotion of incredible irritation is a byproduct ;)

I've run through many minor niggles before an not had any probs. Then for a fateful few weeks around Christmas I ignored those niggling pains. 6 months later and I still can't run.

I don't know what the cause was, running with mild shin splints, tight calf muscle, being kicked at martial arts, when I tripped up in the street and mildly twisted my knee and ankle.

Few trips to the doc, consultants, MRI scan and now being passed on to a neurologist. My mobility isn't impaired, I have full range of movements. That pain isn't an emotion it's my body reminding me everyday that I was stupid LOL

Better to rest for a few days or weeks in my opinion :)
Posted: 21/07/2007 at 19:59

Feel a bit of a prick now for my "pain is weakness leaving the body" comment.

Of course it's not but this is an excellent way to overcome fatigue pain. I try to overcome the pain of fatigue because I want to run futher/faster/harder but I know when a pain isn't fatigue and I know when to stop.

By all means run through fatigue but don't run through injury.
Posted: 22/07/2007 at 15:27

Flyaway, you express your opinion that the complexity and cleverness of pain, feelings, etc. appears to be proof of the intelligent design approach to why we are the way we are. I would be interested to know what you think of the Hypermobility thread. There we have people who are so supple they injure themselves as opposed to many of us who are so tight we injure ourselves. Almost you might say an example of stupid design.
Evolutionists would probably say the human form is trying out different things in different combinations looking for a better outcome. What, and I ask this not in any confrontational way but merely out of interest, do intelligent design people put these sorts of imperfections down to?

Posted: 22/07/2007 at 23:14

Pain is to be human
Posted: 22/07/2007 at 23:16

Who designed the intelligent designer?
Posted: 22/07/2007 at 23:19

For the hardcore: "Pain is there to remind you that you are alive."

Or for the cynical: "Pain is there to remind you that you are alive, and that life sucks."

Posted: 22/07/2007 at 23:47

Flyaway - did you actually lift that word-for-word from the Alpha course or Steve Chalke or something? It's a few years since I read much or that, but I'm fairly sure that was close to a word-for-word quote - & if it is then please attribute it.

It's very tempting to run off rote-learned answers from 'more important' people, especially if you haven't quite worked things out for yourself - but eventually you do have to come to your own understanding. It's better to try to think for yourself before you have no choice but to, and own your own beliefs, because otherwise when you've really got your back to the wall you'll find that the nice easy answers slip through your fingers and everyone around you can only quote glib phrases that don't actually *mean* anything to them or you.

Sorry but I do feel rather strongly about this - I left the church for a few years after realising that no-one there could really deal with questions that they hadn't been taught the answers to, or things not working as they'd been told they should. Some questions just don't have nice neat answers, but it's the looking for them that's important. (FWIW, I came back, & I've been going to Quaker Meetings for ~5 years now).

I'd also suggest you learn to argue the biology before dismissing it. Though I'm not a literal Young Earth Creationist, I've friends who are & they can at least explain why they believe as they do - you don't do yourself any favours if you dismiss something without knowing how it works, since it's actually fairly easy to see how nocioceptors (pain receptors) work - A level biology will explain how they can code different sensations & how they could have evolved. It's a really poor example to pick if you want to argue against evolution, since it's a common mechanism across many different species, & simpler forms exist now - even bacteria will propel themselves away from nasty chemicals, it's not a very difficult trick & it's easy to show it getting more complicated across present-day animals without even looking at the fossil record.
If your position is 'The Bible says it therefore I believe it literally & need no further proof', that's fine by me, and not an unreasonable position to hold, but if you do want to support your view of creation with material evidence, it's usually best to stick to areas you have particular knowledge of.

Michael Davis - the ones I know would usually say something like 'The Fall'.
Posted: 23/07/2007 at 00:14


Do2
From Flyaway's post earlier...
Pain is a warning. Without pain, life is unbearable. Without pain you would not blink every few seconds, your eyes would dry out and you'd go blind.
Without pain, you would walk the exact same way, step after step, never performing the subtle shifts and alterations in stride length and pattern that you do (although you dont concisously know it). You'd develop blisters, but never limp. Those blisters would get infected, wear down to the bone, and your toes would steadily resorb.
Without pain, you'd cut yourself, burn yourself and damage yourself. Your joints, your skin would wear down. You would self-destruct


ergo. Pain is an evolutionary tool. (IMHO)
Posted: 23/07/2007 at 02:21

Duckgirl...

No, I did not "lift" my post from anyone. If anything I suppose it is partly the result of reading a book called "The Gift of Pain" by Dr Paul Brand, an additional research (on a personal, not professional level) into Leprosy, and it's enormously possible that the Alpha Course also quotes him. I wouldnt know. Since I didn't quote anyone, there was no need to cite anyone else. Since I'm doing a PhD, I'm fully aware of the need for appropriatley referencing work, but thank you for reminding me in such a kind manner.

Regarding your assumption that I must lack even A level biology (oh, how simplified those lessons were, I wish what they taught us was literally true!), I could retort that as a Veterinarian now in cartilage research, I have probably studied pain systems, cures and the appropriate biology in greater detail than you, but then I wouldnt deign to jump to conclusions regarding your education....

Michael...yes, the system has its flaws. Chronic pain, phantom limb pain, congenital inability to feel pain....a lot of it seems inexplicable - if the system was "created" why wasnt it "created" perfectly, without these awful, debilitating flaws? When it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong, doesnt it? My personal opinion, FWIW, is that somehow the system must not have been able to work without the possibility that it could go wrong. The system was designed and placed into a fallible world, which has to run by certain laws (Newtons laws of Physics, gravity etc) and somehow the fact that these exist in parallel, along with everything else that it means to be human (or animal, or whatever) results sometimes in a seemingly pointless self-destruction. Thats not a full and all-encompassing answer is it, but for the rest of it, its a personal faith I suppose. It would be very easy for me - in perfect health - to say that I'd rather have a world with pain where some poor people have to experience these extremes, than a world with no pain so no-one had to, but in a way thats academic, because I dont suffer from pain which keeps me awake at night, reduces me to tears of sheer frustration, or prevents me doing even the most simple day-to-day activity. I would never wish to belittle this pain. For myself, I also wouldn't resort to the answer "the fall" (I'm actually really not dissing DG here, she's right in that thats the answer many would give). I think that sounds trite, and unqualified.
I'm not very sure what you mean by the "Hypermobility thread". A thread on here? If so, i'm sorry, I've never seen/ read it.

Anyway....the point of this thread was essentially, should livetorun ignore pain and continue running "through" it. I tried to introduce the idea that pain could be observed from a different point of view, as a useful tool for enabling us to live safe, healthy lives. There's really no reason to attack my beliefs, you know.

Anyone care to discuss how its possible for some people to conciously "turn off" their pain signals? Like walking on coal? How is that done? Do they not burn themselves, or do they just ignore it??
Posted: 23/07/2007 at 09:31

Hi guys

Just been reading back over all your pain philosophies and thought this would make a really interesting Reader to Reader as there's so much advice here. Please do keep it coming...

Thanks

Catherine
Posted: 24/07/2007 at 11:00

My humble advice is to rate pain on a scale of 1-10. Anything up to 3-4 I'd train as normal providing it starts to go away within a week. 5-6 I'd train gently, 7, take a break, 8 upwards see a physio, doc or whatever is appropriate.

Another thing I bear in mind is what type of pain it is. Eg, a stitch, bloomin well ignore it as best you can, muscle pull or ache, work gently through it, knee pain work through it providing it doesn't get any worse and in fact, should start to ease off over time, ligament, tendon or bone, be very careful indeed.

To illustrate, I've been working through a tight achilles. It only got to about 1-2 pain threshold, stayed that way for a couple of weeks and is now easing off thanks to two step-back weeks of 40 mpw. You can guarantee if that got any worse, I'd be off to the physio, cos once that goes you're knackered.
Posted: 24/07/2007 at 11:56

Livetorun - you say you have patellar tendinitis - so there is a physiological cause for your pain - it's not all in your head! The absence of swelling/reduced mobility - i'm not as well qualified as others on here to say, but I would have thought that the enclosed space of the tendon sheath would prevent visible swelling developing - until you do yourself a catastrophic injury.

Whilst the pain is moderate enough for you to ignore, you can choose to do so. That's something all of us do from time to time, when we have a 'bad' run, or get a stitch or something. The art lies in knowing when fleeting, transitional pain, becomes more serious.

If you're getting pain and discomfort a lot, even if it is at a low level, your body is certainly trying to tell you something. Ignoring it might lead to acute injury - and the kind of pain that even you cannot ignore! Tendonitis is known for its sneaky onset, and when ignored, for resulting in partial/complete tear of the tendon in question. Ruptured tendons are not fun, requiring surgery to fix. That's a long time with no running....

Ultimately, whatever your theory about pain and how the mind responds to it - it is much more fun running without pain so it's well worth trying to do something about it!
Posted: 24/07/2007 at 15:45


Do2
Flyaway,

Although we may disagree about the likley original source of pain (ie ultimately an evolutionary route or an intelligent design route), I think from reading your posts that we may agree that it is a useful safegurard (and hence my link to evolutionary tool) for us.

You ask about how people can consciously turn off their pain signals, and whilst I am not an expert I do tend to belive that if you concentrate something hard enough you may be able to ignore (or rather not notice) something else. I guess at its simplest form this is the idea of biting ones lip to divert attention from the pain of a stubbed toe, or a needle jab.

I did once try out the theory that it is only possible to concentrate on one pain at once - thinking about the left leg when the right leg was pushing off the ground and vice versa - needless to say it resulted in little more than a strange stacatto progression down the road and some bemused onlookers!

It is clear though that the human body is possible of dealing with much higher level of pain in emergency "fight or flight" situations than it would day to day. My undertanding of this is that increased levels of adrenalin and other such neurotransmitters lead to flooding of the pain receptors such that the pain signals are less likely to get through.

My conclusions from this are twofold:

1. The body can, (either through design or evolution) temporarily suspend the regulatory govenor of pain inorder to allow actions more important to our immediate survival (such as fight or flight.)

2. If one is able to self induce this sympathetic nervous response, then it is possible to go beyond the normal limits imposed by pain.

Hence, during a race, whilst our sympathetic system is in full flow, we are focusing on reaching the finish line as quickly as possible , and essentially ignoring the pain from our legs. We may also though be blocking our consciousness to other pain, as happened to me earlier this year, when I took off my shoe at the end of a race to discover a blood soaked sock due to my toenail digging in to it neighbouring toe. It was only on the drive home that I noticed the pain.
Posted: 24/07/2007 at 15:49

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