Hurt While Training – Now What

Experiencing pain in training is common place, but what do you do!     

Hurt VS Harm

Pain does not serve as an accurate indicator of damage to body tissue. Simply put hurt does not always indicate harm. Should painful activities be avoided? Heck No just because something hurts more intensely doesn’t necessarily mean that more severe damage is occurring in the tissues. Pain is a non-linear experience. However most of us have experienced pain that lingers & distressing injuries that interfere with our training, How do we deal?!

First Steps

Hurt my back, time to take the month off. No, absolute rest is a bad way to go. Recovery is important, absolute rest is unnecessary and comes at a cost. Specifically loss of fitness adaptations & risk of becoming detrained. Absolute rest often results in either no improvement or worse outcomes (e.g., in low back pain). 

Find a starting point – Find a weight / intensity / volume / exercise selection / ROM that results in either improved or stable symptoms during the next few days. If there is an increase in pain during or after training the stimulus is likely to high in terms of intensity, volume, or both and to be fair there is no one “best” way to approach this process.

Thats Confusing / Explain Better

Your doing deadlifts, loud pop followed by pain, you take a moment, unload the bar, setup a rack and do an empty bar rack pulls. You add weight slowly and progress. Generally its preferred to “under-shoot” when finding your starting point rather than “over-shoot” who knows you might just be fine, or you might be in the starting stages of a rehab process. If symptoms of pain persist or get worse, reduce the stress of the exercise by manipulating the ROM / Weight / Volume / Intensity / Exercise Selection and so on.  

Start out with 2-3 workouts per week on non-consecutive training days, leaving one day of rest in between workouts for recovery. Now that you have a starting point its time to build progression, small jumps that do not exacerbate the symptoms are ideal / 10% is an easy rule of thumb but even that rule is not linear. During these sessions being completely pain free is unrealistic. You will have good and bad days that will help you determine how much you can handle for the next session during your rehab. 


This is a challenging process. Even athletes who are familiar with the process have found it difficult to remain objective with the experience of pain. Recovery from injury, especially chronically painful conditions, may require that you adjust the goal posts and accumulate small victories over long periods of time.

If you are struggling & having difficulty finding an starting point, we are here to help.

Written by – Derek Frohlich

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