“Pain is never really straightforward, even when it appears to be.” – Lorimer Moseley
Pain is part of the human experience. It’s an issue that can throw a wrench in your clients’ training. Before discussing how best to approach pain as a coach, we need to differentiate pain from injuries.
An injury is something that disables function of the body, while pain is an experience. For example, a broken leg would be an injury. The individual can no longer walk on that foot, therefore disabling the function of the leg.
Pain, meanwhile, is an “experience” created by the brain. That’s to say, all pain felt is produced by the brain to encourage protective behavior. However not all pain comes from injury. It is possible to experience pain without actually having any tissue damage.
“Pain is an opinion on the organism’s state of health rather than a mere reflective response to an injury.” – Ramachandran
You don’t need to be an expert on pain, but as a coach it’s important that you begin to develop an awareness of just how complex the topic is. A good place to start is respecting the boundaries of your knowledge and the ethical limitations of your practice.
If the athlete still experiences pain despite being told by professionals that there is nothing physically wrong, then and only then can you make some enquiries in the following areas:
Pain is a complicated and messy subject. However, sometimes a bit of life coaching, nutrition monitoring, and individual program design can sometimes make the difference in reducing the pain an athlete experiences.
Everyone has a different perception of pain, which stresses the importance of an individual approach to coaching.