Published on January 21, 2016
If you’re someone who thrives off being physically fit, you naturally want to stay in the game as long as you can. So what can you do when a healthcare professional tells you to quit doing an activity or sport you love?
If you’re someone who thrives off being physically fit, you naturally want to stay in the game as long as you can. So what can you do when a healthcare professional tells you to quit doing an activity or sport you love? Will you understand your clinicians reasoning? Will efforts be made by the clinician to find a compromise? Will you be confident that your best interests (psychological as well as physical) were considered as part of the decision? And perhaps most importantly, just how necessary is this recommendationin the first place?
You: Love weight training but suddenly started to experience a sharp pain in your low back during squats
Clinician: Stop squatting
A Simple Fix
If squatting hurts, the easiest solution is to stop squatting. And who knows, that just might do the trick. You stop squatting and you no longer experience that familiar pain, which confirms that squats hurt your back and you can now live happily ever after so long as you never squat again, problem solved…or is it?
The solution above may work for some, but it fails to address a few important considerations about you (the patient.)
I. Have you or has anyone else observed your technique?
II. If yes, how confident are you that they know what a proper squat should look like and modifications that may allow you to continue squatting?
I. insufficient strength, decreased mobility, poor setup/stance, etc.
II. poor knowledge of progression, training intensity, frequency, etc.
I. are squats something you enjoy and believe will help you accomplish an important goal or are squats something you recently started and don’t really care about? Was this a consideration when you were told to stop?
Advice to simply quit something such as squatting altogether without considering the points above is incomplete. For example, if you have been hurting your low back during squats primarily because you have poor technique, the best solution may not be to quit squatting, but working on your technique and squatting more with better form. In other words, by perfecting your squat technique you may be able to alleviate stress on the structures that were being damaged/injured, making the squat both the culprit and a cure for your pain. How’s that for a novel idea?
The astute clinician should consider you as well as your injury.
Please understand that the squat example above was only one in an infinite sea of orthopedic conditions. I am not suggesting painful activities should never be stopped and can always be worked through or around. In some cases, stopping an aggravating activity is essential; it all depends on the issue and the individual. The point I am trying to make is only that stopping an aggravating/painful activity just because it is an aggravating/painful activity is incomplete, and tends to be an over utilized recommendation from many clinicians who are unwilling or do not know how to dig deeper.
In summary, there are times when an activity does not need to be eliminated, but can be modified in a way that allows you to continue without pain, further tissue damage, etc. This is especially important when it involves an activity you really enjoy. Clearly the last thing an ambitious athlete or bodybuilder wants to hear is that he/she must table their favorite exercise or sport. Besides this, when a clinician’s reasoning is not understood by his/her patient (or themselves) it is less likely to be followed, potentially resulting in continued injuries and long term failure and frustration.
So seek out an opinion from someone who is both qualified and passionate about keeping you in the game before you hang up the gloves…you may still have a fighting chance.
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