Tag Archive for: exercise

Should I exercise with pain?

Should I exercise with pain? A common question we hear in the clinic, the gym and on sporting fields so let’s look into exercising with pain.

It’s always important to listen to your body and to understand the difference between a general ache versus pain, particularly with exercise. 

But what do you listen for?

The first and most important point to note is that pain is the body’s normal response to perceived danger.

It’s like having an alarm system that will go off if something nasty is detected. So while pain is a normal body reaction, it’s not when it lasts longer than 48 hours after exercise, or when that same pain somewhere in your body starts to hurt during the day, even when not exercising. 

How much is too much

You need to be honest and self-evaluate both during and after exercise.

You can easily do this by giving your pain a rating out of 10; the higher the number, the greater the pain. The following key will then help guide your response:

Am I safe to move?

Usually we ask a medical professional (Doctor or Physiotherapist) for a diagnosis, medications or advice about the best treatment.

What you want to know from them is whether you have a condition that means you should avoid exercise and movement at the moment. There are really very few of these thankfully. In fact, for most muscle, joint and nerve pains, exercise done correctly is not only safe but strongly recommended. This includes joint pain like hip and knee arthritis, and neck and back pain, including spondylosis, sciatica and disc problems. 

Understand that “Hurt doesn’t = Harm”

For most of our lives, pain is a useful thing that protects our body.

If I touch a hot stove, I feel pain and I quickly withdraw my hand. Pain is like an alarm that warns me of danger. 

Unfortunately, persistent pain is much less useful.

It is almost always well out of proportion to any damage going on in the body, and people can feel terrible pain when moving even when it is not dangerous. The alarm that is usually so useful becomes “over-protective”.

This means that if there is a particular movement you do that causes you pain, and has done for some time, it is very likely that that pain is not indicating you are doing any harm. You are sore, but safe. This is important to understand because otherwise exercise makes no sense and you will just be miserable!

Another way to think of this is like a lowering of the pain threshold. A certain part of the body, or many parts of the body, becomes over-sensitive to movement and feels more painful than it needs to be.

Will exercise help my pain?

Most people find their pain decreases with movement and exercise when they find the right thing for them, at the right ‘dose’ and once they manage to get a few weeks of it under their belt. This is not guaranteed though, it depends on a lot of factors, so remember advice and progression from a qualified Health Professional is recommended.

Get into the swing of it

When you have decided what you want to do, decide when you want to do it.

Aim for 3-4 times per week. More than that is okay if the exercise is quite easy. But if you are working hard it is often best to give your body a day off in between workouts so it has time to recover and adapt.

When you know what you want to do and when you want to do it, do it!

And for now, don’t worry about anything more than doing it. The key is to “just show up”, at the gym or in the park. Explore the movements involved in whatever you are doing. Get used to how your body feels, see how it reacts and see how your pain reacts. Enjoy moving your body again. Don’t feel you have to work yourself to exhaustion.

If you miss a workout, don’t beat yourself up. There is no value to doing this. Just try again next time

What about the pain?

The golden rule of exercise and pain is to “exercise within tolerable pain that plateaus during exercise and does not continue to rise significantly, and gradually decreases once you have finished”.

We know that pain is like an “over-sensitive alarm” and doesn’t mean you are doing damage, therefore you don’t need to avoid pain. Some pain or discomfort might be necessary to get a good workout. But, of course, you don’t want too much pain, especially if it is the kind of pain that ‘flares up’ after exercise and stops you from working and sleeping properly.

Tolerable pain is hard to quantify as it is very subjective and can be perceived differently for each person.

For some it will be mild discomfort, for others it will be more. Another way of thinking of tolerable pain is something you can cope with and feel is manageable. It should not feel frightening and you should still feel in control.

It will take some trial and error to find this level. At first, you might do too much and flare up your pain. Take time to let it ease off then try again, doing a little less. Think of a flare up as a learning process, as then you will know what is “too much” for you. As you continue to exercise, it is likely that what was once too much will become achievable.

Be ready for DOMS!

Everyone, regardless of whether they have a painful condition, is likely to feel sore the next day or two after trying something new.

This is called DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. So, if you do feel worse after your first session or two, consider that this might not be a flare-up of ‘your’ pain but normal muscle soreness that will diminish over time.

Time to push-on

Each time you push out of your comfort zone, your body adapts and gets stronger for next time.

Once you have had a few weeks in a row of “showing up” and doing exercises such as STRONGCorps, no matter how little, and you have worked out your level of tolerable pain, it is time to start pushing on to get the most benefit from your time and effort that you can.

Once you are in the habit of exercise, you might find that you end up doing the same thing each time. For example, walking the same route or lifting the same weights. Unfortunately, the body quickly adapts to this and you will stop getting as much benefit. You are just maintaining things, but not getting any fitter or stronger. To get the most from exercise, you have to keep moving out of your comfort zone, a little bit at a time, with variety being the spice of life!

Over time, the benefit adds up. To make sure you are doing this, it helps to keep track of what you are doing. You can make sure you progress over time. For example, try to walk a bit further, or do the same distance in a shorter time. If you are doing home exercise or weights at the gym, try to do a few more “repetitions” or lift heavier weights. 

What doesn’t challenge you, won’t change you!

As you start to build the exercise habit, this becomes key.

The best exercise is one that you enjoy, because you will stick to it. This is true, but it is also true that part of your exercise should be quite hard. Not all of it, but maybe just the last few minutes or the last couple of repetitions. Give yourself some tough love. Are you out of breath? Sweating? Are your muscles tired? If not, you may not be getting the benefit you want.

Another benefit of keeping track of what you are doing is that it helps you to follow your exercise programme based on what you plan to do that day, rather than based on your pain. Allowing your pain to ‘dictate’ what you do often leads back into the spiral of doing less and less.

Key points to remember

  • Get advice from an experienced physiotherapist to determine what the injury is and ensure it’s safe to continue exercising.
  • Modify training to bring it to a level that doesn’t aggravate symptoms during or after exercise.
  • Calm the pain with ice, heat, massage, taping or whatever works for you.
  • Identify the cause of the problem (training error, muscle weakness etc.) and address it.
  • Rehab with strength and conditioning work from your physio and make sure you do it!
  • Develop some strategies to reduce pain when exercising as mentioned above and practice these in training to see what works.
  • Taper well before a race or event, as generally less is more when managing an injury, give it some time to settle before and after race day.
  • And finally, plan long term, not just for the next race. Discuss with your physio how you can fully rehab the issue. This might mean a reduction in training volume and gradual build up when races have finished.

Craig Gregory is an APA Sports Physiotherapist Practice Principal at Balmain Sports Medicine. He holds a Masters Sports Physiotherapy, Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy) and Level 1, 2 & 3 APA Sports Physiotherapy. Craig can be contacted via email craig@balmainsportsmed.com.au.

The top 5 working from home survival tips

You’ve suddenly found yourself working from home for the very first time. It can be confronting and a whole new world! Nearly 15 years spent consulting in the IT industry and, more recently, as a small business owner running V&B Athletic has taught me some valuable lessons about making time spent in the “home office” rewarding and productive.

In the beginning, working from home seems awesome!

You’re not surrounded by coworkers, you’re free to be yourself and lose those pesky inhibitions. No one’s watching or cares what you’re wearing (you can wear pants, or not… but more on this later). You can grab a coffee or a snack or walk away from your desk whenever your feel like it!

There’s not that same peer pressure or communal obligation to get stuff done.

But after several days that initial “holiday” feel begins to wear off and you may find yourself beginning to experience cabin fever and worse still, the enemy of productivity, PROCRASTINATION!

In a normal office environment, it’s coworkers that often pose the greatest threat to keeping you from getting some real, productive work done. Sure there are many positive social benefits to being in a workplace, but they can also be a challenge if you’re easily distracted.

When working from home, it’s easy to become your own worst enemy.

Suddenly you find more reason to check the contents of the fridge, or find hours have slipped by because you’ve been mindlessly scrolling on Facebook, succumbed to the “There’s a new series on Netflix!” or taken a trip down the YouTube rabbit hole of videos about cats doing crazy things with cardboard boxes…

Procrastination may be the source of many failed goals and shattered dreams, but a lack of routine is the fast route to getting there!

Here are some tips and tricks for working from home that I’ve learned over the years:

Make your bed

A simple if arbitrary rule to live by. Here’s why.

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right”

Admiral William H. McRaven – Retired US Navy SEAL – commencement address to graduates of The University of Texas at Austin in May, 2014

Always wear pants

Working from home for the first time, you’ll go through phases with your clothes. The first phase will be the “pyjama phase”. You’re so stoked about no longer having to go into an office that you celebrate by staying in your pyjamas. It starts with a day, then three days, and before you know it, a week… who cares, nobody will see me?

That novelty quickly loses its shine, partly because the neighbours start giving you concerning looks, but mainly because you’ll start to feel like a depressed hermit…

You need to create a boundary between work and life.

Working in your pyjamas is a lot like working from bed (see Make your bed). While it can seem like a great idea when you start, if you’re dressed for bed or more importantly haven’t changed since you got up, your mind still thinks it’s “sloth time”.

Get dressed in real clothes. You don’t need to put on a three-piece suit (but if that’s your thing, then go fot it!) but at least wear real pants and a proper shirt. Save your leisurewear for the weekend and your pyjamas for bedtime!


It’s critical to have a routine. Without one, days and weeks can too easily blend into each other, and you’ll find yourself questioning what day of the week it is! Decide on specific times when your workday will begin and end, and when you’ll take breaks for lunch or coffee.

Reinforce the sense of routine by having a ritual that starts and ends your workday to take the place of the daily commute.

This is where exercising is key.

Just like commuting creates a buffer around the workday, having something that marks the beginning and end of each day helps prepare you for, and then transition out of, the mental space you need to be in to work. When your “commute” is from the bedroom to the kitchen, to the spare room or lounge room, the line that separates work from life starts to blur. So to mark the beginning and the end of the day I like to exercise. Try going for a run at the end of your day or getting in an quick 30 minute workout first thing!


Schedule in regular phone calls, facetime, google meet, skype, whatsapp, or zoom calls. Staying at home doesn’t mean being disconnected. We live in a world where connectivity is at our fingertips, use it!

Group FaceTime is Apple’s multi-person chat offering for iPhone users. You can start a Group FaceTime right from the FaceTime app or from a group conversation in the Messages app.

Google Meet is a video conferencing app. It is the business-oriented version of Google’s Hangouts platform and is suitable for businesses of all sizes. The solution enables users to make video calls with up to 30 users per high-definition video meeting.

Skype is free to use and download and Skype to Skype calls are free anywhere in the world. If you are both using Skype, the call is completely free. Users only need to pay when using premium features like voice mail, SMS texts or making calls to a landline, cell or outside of Skype.

Zoom offers a full-featured Basic Plan for free with unlimited meetings. There is no trial period. Your Basic plan has a 40 minutes time limit on meetings with three to 100 participants.

WhatsApp is making group calls easier with a change to the way its mobile app works. WhatsApp currently supports group calling up to four people at one time.


How do we work more closely together if we’re cut off from one another?

Online collaboration is the new normal! If you have the right tools for collaboration, it doesn’t matter if you’re seated next to your colleagues or in your living room, you can still be efficient, effective and productive. There is a plethora of tools available, not just on your desktop computer, but also from your mobile devices. These tools enable you to keep in contact with your team with uniform communcation, allowing people to better understand who is assigned what, why, how and when. Better yet, deadlines and task management can be built into your communications between team members to reduce misunderstanding!

Here are some great online collaboration tools

Slack – the collaboration tool of choice at V&B Athletic! An incredibly smart platform available on mobile and desktop devices, Slack allows for the sending of direct messages and files to a single person or a group and there’s the ability to organise conversations into different channels.

Asana –  this platform has been around since 2008, making it a veteran in the collaboration arena! Companies such as Intel, Uber, Pinterest and TED all use Asana as their core method of communication.

Trello – If you’ve ever looked into project management software and online collaboration tools, then no doubt you’ve come across Trello. Available on the web and with mobile apps, it lets you easily organize projects and work on them with colleagues. Trello is like sticky notes on your desktop and allows you to work with boards or lists, which can be organised by teams and different tasks. You can set up to-do lists and delegate amongst colleagues.

Follow the five Ps

Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Write down the list of things you want to get achieved that day, that week or that month. By setting specific measurable goals for the short, medium and long-term you can keep a close on eye on whether or not you’re doing what needs to be done day-to-day, but it also means you’ll have a pre-planned path to follow and can keep going when the procrastination fairy visits!

What is Periodisation and why is it important?

What is Periodisation?

Periodisation is the division of longer training cycles, called macrocycles, into smaller and more manageable periods, known as mesocycles.

A macrocycle is typically 6 to 12 months. A mesocycle is normally the main training target for a particular period such as anaerobic power or muscular endurance and contains 3 to 6 microcycles.

The primary goal of periodisation is to manage and coordinate all aspects of your training to reach peak performance at a certain point in time, such as a race or an event.

Periodisation can also be used to manage performance and improvement effectively over longer training periods, like summer racing season.

We use periodisation in the design of our training programs, like STRONGCorps Group Personal Training to maximise training adaptations of our athletes and prevent the onset of overtraining syndrome (OTS). We do this through planned manipulation of training variables, like load, sets, and repetitions.

Why is periodisation important?

The goal of periodisation is to maximise your performance and improvement whilst reducing your risk of injury and the staleness of your training over the long term.

  • Each mesocycle targets a specific goal or series of attributes to be developed within a designated period of time.
  • Periods of appropriate overload and recovery are designated within each mesocycle. This is done to ensure the neuromuscular system adapts maximally.
  • Alterations to training load or stress, volume, and intensity can be made, where necessary, within each mesocycle.

In summary, if programmed and utilised appropriately, periodisation can result in achieving peak performance multiple times over a series of activities such as competitive trail running or ultramarathons or optimise performance over an entire competitive season in sports such as soccer or netball.

6 Nutrition Tips every runner should know

Are you a running newbie or a seasoned pro?

The right nutrition is essential to ensuring you’ll perform at your best come race day, though it is the often a forgotten part of these events.

Being able to tick the box that says you’ve run a marathon or done an ultra-endurance event is on many peoples bucket lists, and rightly so – being able to run for an extended period of time, on any type of terrain is a fantastic achievement!

Here are 6 nutrition tips to help you get your nutrition right for your next race.

Eat based on your goals

There’s been so much in the media in recent years about if you should be low carb, high fat; high carb low fat, or somewhere in between.

Best practice is about eating enough of the right nutrients to support your training, help you achieve your goals and keep you healthy.

Eating and drinking enough carbohydrate to support your training is essential; consuming carbs before and during your race allows you to race at your individual maximal sustainable pace. Not enough means you won’t be able to move as fast. Given that for the majority of people participating in endurance activity, the goal is to do the best you can (and by best I mean the fastest speed over the distance), carbs are king. This doesn’t necessarily mean high carb though; it means eating enough to support your training, which means more around training sessions and races, and less at other times.

The one caveat here is if you do happen to NOT be aiming for your maximal sustainable pace; maybe you’re pacing a friend who is less experienced, and doesn’t move as quickly as you, you’ll likely find that during the event you can get away with consuming less, as you’re moving at slower than your maximal sustainable pace.

Choose your food

Some foods are better suited at certain times than others.

For example, high GI carbohydrate which is digested quickly is better consumed either right before or during endurance activity, such as a sports drink or gel.

Lower GI or slower digested carbohydrate is better when you have more time beforehand, or the day before, such as whole grain bread, brown rice or pasta. Lower fat choices right before activity are also suggested, as higher fat choices slow digestion.

Donuts (unfortunately) do not make for a good choice!

Fasted and Fed sessions

Doing some of your training sessions fasted will help your body better adapt to using fat as fuel, as does including some sessions where you’ve eaten before. As a starting point, for your longer sessions and resistance sessions, eat something beforehand (e.g. banana, muesli and milk, toast with peanut butter and honey). For shorter sessions, do these without eating beforehand.

Timing is Key!

Eating adequate amounts before, during and after sessions is essential.

Eat something beforehand that is easily digestible that leaves you feeling comfortable. For most men, aiming for 40-60g of carbohydrate is adequate per hour during a training session or race.

Is this a lot? Potentially, and the reason it is important to test your fuel out in training sessions so you know what works for you. Aim to eat within 30 minutes of finishing the training for best recovery results, and to help manage appetite later on in the day.


We all know not to wear new running shoes on race day; nutrition is the same.

Practice your nutrition strategies during training to help instil you with confidence in what you have planned, and to iron out any kinks in your plan. Check out our Evolve Endurance Nutrition Program for guidance on how to fuel effectively during your race as well as during your training and recovery.

Remember to Hydrate!

Drinking enough fluid day to day is essential for a number of reasons.

These daily needs significantly increase as soon as you add endurance training and events into the mix. Remember to check the colour of your urine and aim for pale yellow to colourless, and if you find you sweat a lot, also incorporate electrolyte drinks as well to help replace those lost in your sweat.

How did you wake up today?

When it comes to our mental health, while it can be difficult to find the motivation, regular exercise can help alleviate stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression and other mood orders. Yet, despite countless research proving its effectiveness, exercise is the most under-prescribed treatment for mental ill-health!

How did you wake up today?

Was it full of beans and ready to take on the world?

Or was it feeling kind of miserable, like your tank was close to empty?

Perhaps you’re mad at yourself.

For not getting the lawn mowing done over the weekend or not getting your work finished because you’re too easily distracted.

Perhaps you’re feeling a bit lonely.

Left out by friends or unsupported by family. You may be dwelling on mounting bills or the fact that you’re not in the best shape at the moment. Or perhaps you’re just feeling pissed off and want to remain undisturbed by life’s demands and opportunities.

The reasons for feeling down can be multifaceted and difficult to determine

If you feel depressed for two weeks or more, please seek the advice of your GP or Allied Health Professional to rule out or treat underlying biological factors. They may suggest consulting a mental health professional to help in negotiating the changes life throws at us or the cheaper alternative to therapy, antidepressants, which can help to adjust the underlying biology.

Mental health benefits of getting outdoors and exercising

Not only is it cheap and accessible to all, but it also provides both sunlight and the release of hormones which are well documented in having profoundly positive impacts on our mental health. Personally, I’ve developed a toolkit of strategies that I use when the black dog starts nipping at my heels that includes running, yoga, and hanging out with/confiding in understanding friends.

The Black Dog Institute provides some great advice on how exercise can help alleviate symptoms of depression including:

  • increasing energy levels
  • improving sleep
  • distracting from worries and rumination
  • providing social support and reducing loneliness when done with other people
  • increasing a sense of control and self-esteem

Download their fact sheet here

You are not alone

There is always someone who’ll listen and help you keep safe

If your life is in danger, please call emergency services by dialling 000.

Counselling and Support (24/7)

If you need support call one of the following numbers:

A burden shared is a burden halved

Got a niggling feeling that someone you know or care about it seems a bit more agitated or withdrawn lately?

Perhaps their behaviour seems different from normal?

Or they just don’t seem to be their usual self.

Trust your gut instinct and act on it

A simple conversation could save a life.

R U OK has a website full of information on something we can all do, stay connected and have meaningful conversations. We don’t need to be experts – just a good friend and a great listener. So, if you notice someone who might be struggling – start a conversation!