From Novice to Pro: What Athletes Need to Know About Their Pain

Pain is the most important alarm system in the body


Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. The perception of it is highly individual and depends on a lot of factors.

Some may feel it as discomfort, others as agony. It may be sharp or dull; it may come and go; or it may be constant. People may feel aches in one area of the body, such as back, abdomen, chest, or pelvis. Or they may feel them all over, such as when your muscles hurt from the flu, according to National Institutes of Health.[slideshow:100449]

Whatever the case, pain is one of the most important sensations a person can feel, especially athletes because they need to be acutely aware of their bodies, says Dr. Aneesh Singla, Harvard-trained, DC-area pain specialist and the author of Why It Hurts: A Physician’s Insights on the Purpose of Pain, which comes out on May 9.

“Pain is a lot more complex than just taking a pill and turning it off,” Dr. Singla adds. That’s why taking opioid pills can be dangerous. “People think that if you take more you get more pain relief but this is not always the case.”

The body gets tolerant to the medication and needs more. Then you get to a point where it can’t process the medication and side effects follow such as nausea, constipation, dizziness, and cognitive impairment such as the inability to think clearly.

“Pain is a warning sign that we are about to be injured,” Dr. Singla says. If you don’t feel it, then you most likely should not be alerted.”  It is a symptom of a problem; now you have to find that problem and fix it.

Click here for 14 Things Athletes Need to Know About Their Pain

Related stories:

Physical Therapists’ Advice to Manage Pain at Home

Runners Should Be Aware of These Pre-Injury Signals

Best Back Exercises For People With Back Pain