Rest Alone Will Not Solve Your Problems

People don’t like to be injured.  Athlete or non-athlete, injuries are not fun to deal with.  They interfere with our jobs, with our social activities, with our training.  They affect our mental state.

One of the big issues with injuries as an athlete, especially with the runners and CrossFitters I talk to on a daily basis, is they don’t like to rest.  They often refuse to rest.  In general, that is typically fine, except for the fact that they just push through pain.  Rather than doing a different activity for awhile, they push through pain, compensate, and cause more injuries.  But worse than that, they often don’t do anything to address the pain they are dealing with.  Eventually, the body breaks down too much and forces rest or modification.

And so they rest…two days, two weeks, two months…the timeframe varies.  But does this solve the problem.  No, it does not!

Here is the cycle that tends to happen:

Pain -> Continue training -> Compensations -> More pain -> Self treat with stretches or foam rolling ->  Seek out some advice à Follow the advice “if” they like the answer -> Pain continues -> Rest -> Pain resolves -> Resume training -> Pain returns.

Yes, I admit that is an over-generalization, but I also have to say it is something I see or hear on a daily basis.

So, why does the pain occur after rest?  Because you never actually fixed the problem, you just rested it and allowed it to hide for a bit.

Unless you experience a traumatic injury, such as tripping over something, someone taking you out at your knee during a game, or catching a barbell awkwardly, most injuries are caused by a “driver.”  This driver is the issue that is causing your mechanics to be off in some way.  The driver can be present for a number of reasons, including stiff joints, tight or restricted soft tissues, nerve issues, and prior injuries or surgeries.  Unless that driver is fixed, the problem that it caused in the first place will always return. 

If you don’t change something, you can’t expect your pain to change forever, either.

To confuse this issue a little more, the driver is frequently not in the same area of where the pain or injury is.  Typically, it is somewhere else in your body and your pain is simply a symptom of that driver.  Meaning, there are actually two issues to address – the area of the pain to calm it down and the actual driver.

So what do you do?

First off, I am not saying rest is a bad thing to do when first starting to feel pain.  It is very possible that the pain is caused by something small and it just needs a couple days to rest and maybe doing some simple massage to break up some tightness to calm down the inflammation process.

If after a couple days, the pain does not resolve, then it is time to do something about it.  You may not need to rest fully, but temporarily changing your activities or modifying as necessary, is advised.  During that time, it is also advised to seek out professional help – physical therapy, chiropractor, massage therapy, acupuncture.  There are many options, depending on what you feel you need, but unless you do something to address the issue, you are going to continue having your issues.

Have questions about some issues you are dealing with?  Not sure what to do next?  Email me at with your questions.

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