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Chronic Pain in Fitness Professionals

by Alexandra Williams, MA on Jul 02, 2015

This article takes a look at the epidemic of chronic pain and how fitness professionals manage—or mismanage—it in their own lives. Fitness veterans who have dealt with this problem, either personally or in a clinical setting, share advice on how to take care of the body so that it works optimally for years to come.

Surgery is just one of the many solutions to chronic pain, defined by the National Institutes of Health as persistent pain lasting for more than 12 weeks (NIH 2011). In addition to surgery as a treatment option, the NIH recommends medication, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, nerve blocks, psychotherapy, relaxation therapies, biofeedback, behavior modification, and complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) approaches such as tai chi, meditation, massage therapies and similar self-managed treatment methods. What it does not recommend is ignoring the pain or “working through it.”

An Objective Eye

It can be difficult to take a step back and be objective when it comes to your own health. Katy Bowman, MS, director of the Restorative Exercise Institute in Ventura, California, and author of Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement (Propriometrics Press 2014), suggests you write down the following:

  • clinical diagnoses received over your lifetime
  • every prescription medication you take and why
  • every over-the-counter medica- tion you take, and how often
  • every surgery you have had or need to have
  • visits to the hospital, doctor, chiropractor or any other allied health professional
  • body parts that “alert” you regularly or on a semiregular basis
  • body parts that hurt
  • body parts that aren’t working to the best of their ability
  • health issues you worry about having in the future
  • Alternative Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

    Medication and surgery are not the only options when dealing with chronic pain. The following treatments are viable methods for addressing aches and pains:

    • acupuncture
    • chiropractic manipulation
    • supplements and vitamins
    • cognitive therapy
    • yoga
    • relaxation therapy
    • hypnosis
    • guided imagery
    • music therapy
    • biofeedback
    • massage

    To read more about chronic pain in fitness professionals, please see "Playing Hurt" in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


    NIH (National Institutes of Health). 2011. Chronic pain: Symptoms, diagnosis, & treatment. Accessed Jan. 14, 2015.

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    About the Author

    Alexandra Williams, MA

    Alexandra Williams, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

    Alexandra Williams, MA, is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal and co-owner of the Fun & Fit blog, column and radio show with her twin sister. Certified since 1986, Alexandra currently teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and for Spectrum Clubs. She loves to write, emcee and edit, especially in a humorous fashion. She can be reached at