The Mental Side of Continuing Your Sport (Even When it Hurts)

We’ve all had those times when you love the sport, but it doesn’t love you back: a bad run, a tough hike, a day when you miss every shot, or can’t seem to get yourself in the game. Unfortunately, unlike these infrequent moments, there are other times when injury or other physical issues cause pain to become a part of regular fitness activity – and that’s when the mental side of the game comes to the forefront. If you aren’t one such person, you’ve likely met one: someone who continues his/her beloved activity, despite pain every single time. The actual physical enjoyment of the activity may even be gone – so why do so many of us insist on continuing despite pain telling us to “hit the brakes!”?

Reasons People Push Past Pain 

While there many be specific reasons individual to each person, many are similar, such as:

Identity: Someone sees him/herself as a “cyclist,” “runner,” “swimmer,” “athlete,” etc. To stop, even temporarily, may feel like losing his/her identity.

Goals: If you’ve been training for a big goal, it may feel absolutely devastating to stop, even for injury. Pushing through pain can be a form of denial, as though the body may “get over it” and you can just keep going.

Compulsion/Routine: Sometimes, your fitness routine becomes as entrenched as the rest of your week and it feels totally crazy to skip a day (or worse) in the name of injury.

Stress Management: Many people use exercise as a healthy way to manage stress. If you suspect injury, it may feel better to keep going, even though it hurts, than give up the way you deal with your daily frustrations.

Love of the Game: If you truly love your sport, it can be terrifying to worry you may have a season-ending (or worse) injury. Ignoring pain can be a way of trying to ignore fears of what the injury could mean for your hobby.

These are just some of the major reasons people ignore pain, even when they shouldn’t. Discomfort can often be a part of physical activity, but pain – especially acute – shouldn’t be. Despite fears that pain can mean injury, and that injury can mean the end of your sport, the bigger danger is causing more damage while pushing through pain. Pain is there to tell you something is wrong, and ignoring it can cause more problems.

Instead of ignoring pain during activity, make an appointment with a physical therapist. A physical therapist is an expert in the musculoskeletal system, who can examine you and determine the nature and severity of your injury, and create a treatment plan. Your PT will also educate you on the likely cause and contributing factors of your injury and how to best help prevent future injury. Physical therapists are also familiar with the emotional side of injury, and can help give you guidance and recommendations for how to approach your recovery.

Body One Physical therapy is locally-owned and operated, and our team of caring, expert providers tackle treatment with clients of all ages and activity levels. We’re happy to serve Central Indiana with three locations: North Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t settle for painful activity, call Body One and we’ll help get you back to your better-than-ever!