As a personal trainer, a common objection to purchasing a fitness package is chronic pain. Some clients will genuinely have slipped discs or a history of surgeries, but others will complain of a mysterious pain with no real cause or diagnosis.
I can't run -- I have chronic knee pain.
I can't lift weights -- I have chronic shoulder pain.
I can't do much other than swim -- I have chronic heel pain.
However, after two or three mobility sessions these clients feel better than ever, and are amazed that the pain they thought they would have to live with for the rest of their lives is substantially reduced.
Here are a few common faux-pains that may appear to be a chronic issue, but can easily be reduced or eliminated.
Chronic Heel and Foot Pain
Plantar fasciitis is the leading cause of heel pain, but if you have pain in your heel or foot, it might just be that your plantar fascia ligament is tight or strained.
Try resting from vigorous activity like running and jumping for a few days, and work on improving foot mobility by stretching and rolling the bottom of your feet with a lacrosse ball or frozen water bottle.
Stretching and rolling your plantar fascia for 5 minutes twice daily should reduce your heel pain substantially within a week. It's also important to wear properly supportive footwear, and if you have persistent pain problems you might want to consider an orthotic insert that supports the plantar fascia ligament.
Chronic Shoulder and Upper Back Pain
Shoulder pain is incredibly common, and it is often very easy to solve.
Similar to solving heel pain, mobilizing the shoulder with band-assisted stretching and self-myofascial release can often drastically reduce shoulder pain.
It's also important to maintain proper form in weight lifting exercises like overhead barbell presses. A common mistake is not holding the barbell directly above the elbows, but allowing it to track in front of the body. This causes unnecessary strain on the shoulder, and can cause injuries.
Chronic Knee Pain
Most minor (but persistent) knee pain is simply due to tight muscles throughout the legs.
Foam rolling the calves and quadriceps should provide nearly immediate relief to knee pain if this is the case.
Stretching the IT band can also help reduce knee pain, but it is not advised that you use the foam roller on your IT band. Strengthening your gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae will assist in the stabilization of the knee joint, which will reduce your chance for knee injuries.
If you are thinking about starting an exercise program but are worried that your aches and pains will hold you back, try finding alternative solutions before giving up. Many types of pain are caused by tightness in the fascia or muscle imbalances and these can be treated easily and quickly, allowing you to get back to your healthy, active lifestyle.