Back & Knee Pain In The Gym – 5 Things You Should Know!

A big thank you to Liam from Gold Coast Physio and Sport Health for writing this article to help our members better understand Back & knee Pain. It's a banger...
Back and knee pain are common complaints we see as physiotherapists, and often are some of the most misunderstood and feared areas to injure.

Below are 5 key things you should know about your back and knees if you experience pain:

1. An accurate diagnosis is important

An accurate diagnosis forms the foundation for your rehabilitation and return to full function. If you are not sure what is going on, don’t be afraid to ask! We often see clients who are told that they have one thing and have been trying to rehab it for a while to no success. It quickly becomes clear that the reason the rehab hasn’t been working is because it was the wrong diagnosis in the first place! Think of this as step one in the process. 

2. You are not your imaging 

Often clients come in to see us having already had scans or imaging done on their injured body part. These scans often sound all doom and gloom, but there often is a lot of things seen in the imaging that are not likely causing your pain. We know that approximately 50% of adults in their 40’s will have changes on imaging, but not all of this group experiences pain. It’s important to remember that imaging is simply that, an image, and it doesn’t tell you what is painful just what is there. If I showed you a picture of a telephone, could you say if it was ringing? 

3. Pain does not equal damage  

Just because something hurts, it doesn’t mean that it is damaged. Think about when you hold your hand over a flame, it starts to hurt and your remove your hand quick smart. You don’t burn yourself, it just hurts at the time. This is the same in the rest of your body, including backs and knees. Now I’m not saying, “no pain, no gain”, but with guidance it is often safe to exercise in low, tolerable levels of pain. This links back into point number one. 

4. Keeping active is key

The benefits of exercise are endless. General health, mental health, strength gains, bone density, weight loss, I could go on forever! Just because you have back or knee pain, it doesn’t mean don’t move. What it may mean is finding a new way to move while things are sore, before eventually getting back into what you enjoy. You like running but your knee gets swollen following? Try cycling. You like cycling but your back currently hates bending forwards? Maybe swimming could be helpful. Remember, motion is lotion. 

5. It’s not just about strength and mobility 

We often find areas to work on regarding strength and mobility when someone is injured, and these can often contribute to the injury itself in the first place. But these do not act alone. Other areas that can contribute to the onset of pain or an injury include diet, sleep, emotions, stress, fatigue, general health, and hormone levels. There are a lot of different things that can fill your cup, and if it is sitting close to the brim then it might not take much for it to overflow. 

Written by Liam Ryan, Physiotherapist at Gold Coast Physio & Sports Health