Is It Safe To Move When I Have Pain?

Is it safe to move when I have pain?

This article was inspired from a question I got asked in the clinic by a patient this week.

This lady had pain in their upper back for the last 2 years and what started off as minor injury had grown into a long lasting pain that was having a big impact on their life.

She had been around to quite a few therapists who had given her conflicting advice. She had her MRI done and her doctor had told her that she was more than likely paying the price for been very active and not stretching when younger.

(Read here to find out if stretching does influence injury and pain )

She is only 50 years old.

Her main fear was that she would do further damage to the area if she was lifting, pulling and dragging.

Nothing to serious, just work around the house.

Her MRI did not show anything serious. In-fact, it said very little about what might be contributing to her pain.

So, over the last two years she had gradually avoided using it much and had given up doing a lot of the everyday household things that she used to do.

She was afraid to use her right arm and now her left arm was starting to get sore also.

Her main concern was causing further damage!

She had family coming home for Christmas and she wanted to paint some rooms in the house and ‘tidy it up’ for Christmas.

Her main concern was would she cause further damage by doing this.

So to answer this question I explained to her how pain works and when you are pain for a long time it is more down to the sensitivity of the tissue rather than actual tissue damage.

All tissues have a fairly standard healing time and when pain persists longer than this, then there are often other factors going on that sensitise your body, and cause pain to persist.

Some of these are shown in the cup analogy below

This, she could relate to, as she had been through a tough time over the last two years and there was quite a bit of stress involved in her life.

When she heard that pain does not equal tissue damage, it straight away brought a sense of calm to her and I could physically see her body relax.

This was a good place to start.

I then explained how your body loves movement and while it is not good to force or push a movement if it is painful, you can still work around it and perform the movement in a less aggravating way.

A lot of good rehabilitation from pain or an injury involves finding other ways to get the tissues loading and moving so you don’t do the exact movement that aggravates it and cause further sensitivity.


So to recap, movement is good for your body and is necessary for healthy tissues. While it is necessary to limit movement when you hurt your self initially to allow for tissue healing, we then want to get you moving and loading safely and as soon as possible.

While you do not want to do movements that are too painful, it is alright to expose your body to these movements in a way that is not so painful and to built up the tissue tolerance levels again.

Avoidance of movement is a cycle that is easy for a lot of people with chronic pain to fall into. The less they move, the stiffer the area can become, which can lead to more when they do move it, leading to more fear of movement and the cycle continues.

My goal with each every patient who has suffered with long term pain, is to break up this cycle and add in more movement variety and new less painful experiences to their body.

If you feel like you have fallen into this cycle of fear of movement help can be found

At my clinic I the offer the option of a discovery visit, which is a chance for you to come to my clinic where you can explain your movement fears and let me assess you and see what is going on with body.

There is no charge for this session and there is no treatment involved. It’s 30 minutes of your time to help you make a better decision about you health.

Click the button below to book a discovery session

Click here to book a dicovery session

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