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Pain Never Precedes Dysfunction

Pain Never Precedes Dysfunction

“Pain never precedes dysfunction.”–Dr. Stanley Paris

I recently found a manual from a physical therapy course I attended in 1985.  Dr. Stanley Paris was the instructor and I was lucky to have been in his class at the beginning of my career.  At 26 years of age, I wrote this quote on the front of the manual and it still stands as the best bit of wisdom I can pass along to fitness clients and physical therapy patients.

Pain happens as the result of some underlying performance problem: postural flaws and sustained joint positions, respiratory restrictions,  muscle strength/endurance is depleted, joint mobility is insufficient,  joint mobility is excessive, movement coordination is poor,  deceleration skills are below acceleration capacity.

Resolving pain requires a correction of the dysfunction.  Performance problems are often present for months and sometimes years before they create pain.  “But I have always have been that way” is the frequent pain patient reply.  Age, inactivity, and the onset of health issues all have a way of weakening the body and lowering the pain threshold.  Very often more than one performance issue needs to be managed.  Properly performed exercise and activity modification work wonders to resolve performance problems and will abolish the pain.

Assessing and correcting dysfunction before the onset of pain symptoms is the best course of action.  Work with a coach that is able to identify performance deficits and then design an appropriate training routine to eradicate the problems before symptoms occur.  At Fenton Fitness, we encourage all clients to go through a functional movement screen and meet with the physical therapist for help with any movement issues. The most valuable care any strength coach, fitness trainer, or physical therapist can provide is preventative.


Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

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