The Difference Between Discomfort and Injury

Every athlete knows that aches and pains are part of the process. Especially as we get older, something always hurts a bit.

The challenge is distinguishing between aches and injuries.

For an ache, the best approach is to continue to work the area to promote healing. Usually a slightly different activity is best, but, counter-intuitively, healing happens faster through more use of the affected area. This increases blood flow and stretches and strengthens the supporting muscles and tendons.

Injuries, on the other hand, require rest. We suspend activity, ice the area, maybe immobilize it until it stabilizes and is ready to be built up again.

These truths apply to our mind and hearts, not just to our bodies.

When we are challenged emotionally, when we take what feels like a professional risk and fall short, we often misdiagnose the difference between discomfort and injury. Any blow – in the form of embarrassment, a critique, a sale we didn’t close, a displeased client – hurts our ego.

It can feel like an injury, but it’s usually just discomfort.

If we allow ourselves the mistake of bandaging up and immobilizing that new muscle that we’ve just used the first time, healing will take forever.

What this new muscle really needs is more work and more effort, so it can be strengthened.

4 thoughts on “The Difference Between Discomfort and Injury

  1. Poignant and useful, as always, Sasha. Your distinction reminds me of another important delineation that I think of often, that is between pain and suffering. I went into bearing my children knowing I could go through pain. It’s when my brain thought it might last forever that it ever turned into suffering. We can become aware of the difference and become so much stronger when we know we can take a little (or a lot of) pain; we don’t have to suffer through as many things as we do.

  2. Well said! My yoga teachers often told me that “suffering was optional.” Not sure I always believed them!

  3. Thank you, Sasha… you somehow always have what I need to hear on the day I really need it. Another insightful post. It’s been a long time since I was an athlete, we do tend to forget.

  4. Thank you Laura. I use the term “athlete” loosely…but our bodies do hold a lot of wisdom if we listen to them.

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