When Pain is for Your Gain

Oftentimes in physical therapy, one of the primary goals of treatment is to alleviate pain. Due to this, many activities that patients take part in are specifically designed to avoid generating pain. However, there are a few instances where pain is not only expected but is required for success.

One of these instances is eccentric exercises for tendon problems. An eccentric exercise is an exercise that works a muscle by having it resist a force while slowly lengthening. An example of this would be slowly lowering a grocery bag you are holding with your elbow bent until your elbow is straight; this would be an eccentric exercise for your biceps.

Eccentric exercises are frequently prescribed in the case of tendon problems because they cause specific, positive changes in the tendon itself. But, it in order to have these changes, pain must occur as a sign of a proper level of work at the tissue. If you are prescribed eccentric exercises, you should expect to experience roughly 3-5/10 pain when doing the exercises. This pain should go away shortly after the exercises are complete. If you are not experiencing pain during eccentric exercises for a tendon problem, your physical therapist may increase the level of difficulty in the workout to cause it. This is one of the few times where no pain really does mean no gain.

If you are unsure of if what you are feeling when performing certain exercises is appropriate, talk to your physical therapist. They can explain exactly what your expectations should be for your exercise program to make sure it is working properly for you!