What can we learn from top athletes when it comes to pain? Top athletes suffer a lot of pain. During training, but also in their athletic excellence. They are always pushing their limits, but also their pain threshold. Discover the three lessons of top sports that you can also apply to chronic pain.
Lesson 1: Change of effort and relaxation
Anyone who thinks that top athletes train to the maximum every day is wrong. In fact, in recent years it has become increasingly clear that it is the recovery period after exercise that is important. After strenuous exercise, the body recovers, whereby it is precisely during the recovery period that the body becomes stronger.
With chronic pain, the balance between exercise and relaxation is just as important as with top-class sports. By alternating between effort and relaxation, you prevent yourself from overstepping your limits, or putting too little strain on yourself.
Lesson 2: Stop resisting
An important second tip I discovered in my conversation with top skater Gijs Esders. When a top athlete really starts to get hurt, it is important not to resist. By resisting the pain the body builds up tension. As a result, the performance becomes less. At moments of pain it is important to stay relaxed and focused.
With chronic pain something similar happens. By tightening the body, the pain increases. Especially when muscles are tense for (much) too long. Staying relaxed in case of pain is therefore also very important for chronic pain. In addition to the tension in your muscles, the alarm centre in your brain will also react less violently by relaxing.
Lesson 3: Healthy living
A final lesson from top athletes is that not only the sport, but also life around the sport is important. You can still do your best, if you don't sleep well or eat badly you won't perform as a top athlete.
The same applies to chronic pain. By having stability in as many areas of your life as possible, you can cope with more. If it's hard to cope, you don't immediately sink deep. You build as it were a buffer against the pain.
Watch the interview with Gijs Esders
As you can read, chronic pain and top sports fink have some similarities! You can watch the interview with Gijs Esders about top sport and pain below (in Dutch), or listen back on Spotify.