Easing the pain
HOLD IT In an isometric contraction, a muscle is contracted without either shortening or lengthening. For example, the hamstrings and glutes contract isometrically during the bridge exercise. ‘Isometrics are thought to have an inhibitory effect on pain, although the research highlights a varied response in individuals,’ says Goom. One recent study, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that with tendinopathies, isometric holds reduced pain for 45 minutes. ‘In some, isometrics can reduce pain to allow a window of opportunity to facilitate rehab or continue sport, but they’re not a cure-all,’ cautions Goom.
BEST DONE Before rehab.
MOVE IT To see how pain is governed by the brain, try this tip from coach and Feldenkrais practitioner Jae Gruenke (balancedrunner.com). ‘If you feel pain when running, imagine the pain is in the same location but on the other side,’ she says. ‘As you continue to run while imagining this, you’ll usually feel your movement alter and your discomfort begin to fade.’ Use sensibly – not to mask severe pain. BEST DONE To quieten midrun niggles.