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Playing Through the Pain: Not Always the Best Tactic

We see it when we watch professional athletes performing at the highest level. In the eyes of society, playing through pain is honorable. This pro-athlete glorification drives home the idea of playing through pain so much that we sometimes chastise athletes if they sit on the sideline without any visible injuries. Despite this, playing through pain is not always in a player’s best interest – nor is it for the average, active person. The greatest risk is doing more (sometimes serious) harm beyond the initial discomfort. A tweak, pull, or strain can quickly expand into a tear, break, or fracture. Professional hockey players regularly play through losing their teeth mid-game amidst a multitude of other pains. Basketball and football players are often seen getting taped on the sidelines with ankle sprains and broken fingers. Many of these athletes typically take the “grin and bear it” approach to cope with the blunt force that comes with the territory. Whether this is some machismo thing or simply giving one’s all for the benefit of the team is debatable. The example set by star athletes moves on down the ranks to the college and high school levels and even filters out to healthy, active adults. That’s the real trick though: they’re professional athletes with some of the best medical teams at their fingertips. It’s also reported that athletes have a higher pain tolerance than the rest of us. Active adults, on the other hand, need to pay close attention to any pain. Some may say it comes down to one question: are you hurt or injured? The difference can be huge and difficult to decipher. This Health & Fitness Magazine article lists four signs a person experiencing pain should stop the activity they’re doing.
  1. A hot or swelling joint
  2. Chronic pain that lingers for weeks or months at a time
  3. If a degenerative disease is revealed by X-rays
  4. If the pain makes it impossible to continue
Staying physically active is important for those who want to healthy lifestyle. Oftentimes, tolerating aches and pains is just fine so long as we don’t overcompensate and injure another body part or heed larger warning signs that something might be seriously wrong. If we’re coming back from injury and experience pain, it’s a good idea to shut it down, cut back, and start some more rehabilitation.
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