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How to use a traffic light to self manage your pain

I get asked these questions more than any other:

"How do I know when to push and when to back off?"

"Is it okay to push through pain at all?"

"If I'm feeling pain, does that mean damage is being done?" "How do I know when I'm ready to progress or do a more advanced movement?"

And there's no simple, objective answer to any of these. Which is why the answer tends to start with the unsatisfying phrase, "it depends".

I've spoken at length before about what pain really means and how it's not always a reliable detector of actual danger. You can read more about that here:

However, I have developed a system to help clients understand and visualize their pain better. This gives them a system to know what to do and how to proceed safely while still making progress towards their goals.

This system involves a traffic light.

Picture a pain scale numbering 1 to 10, (1 being barely noticeable discomfort to 10 being unbearable pain).

🟢 If your pain is between a 1 to a 3, you're in the green light zone. You're free to continue your activity as this is an acceptable level of pain to push through.

🟡If your pain is between a 4 to a 7, you're in the yellow light zone. This is where we don't necessarily stop completely but we proceed with caution, especially if we see the intensity of our pain increasing over time.

🔴If your pain is between an 8 to a 10, you're in the red light zone. This is your sign to stop and back off whatever you're doing. You may need to simply regress the movement or activity or substitute it for something that's significantly more tolerable.

As long as you remain as self-aware as possible about your feelings of pain, this gives you a framework to know whether the activity you're doing is tolerable to your body and whether you should continue, modify, or stop what you're doing.

And that's all. It's a simple system for a complicated process. Pain is multi-factorial and things other than actual damage can create feelings of pain, but learning how to live with pain and how to manage it yourself is an invaluable skill.

To your good health,

Coach Stephen


Looking to become pain-free so you can enjoy your favourite sports and hobbies again? Do you want to live a higher quality of life free of pain?

Are you tired of ineffective and costly "maintenance" appointments with your local healthcare professional that don't actually fix the root cause of your problem and get rid of it for good?

If so, The Pain-Free Project is here!

I want to coach you to return from injury stronger than ever, without the fear of pain and injury.

In this coaching program you'll get:

· 🔺 A Tailored Exercise Program

· 🔺 Comprehensive Movement Analysis

· 🔺 Optimal Pain Management Protocol

· 🔺 Consistent Exercise Progressions Through App-based System

· 🔺 Weekly Detailed Assessment (Data/Performance/Feedback)

· 🔺 200+ Exercise Execution Library

· 🔺 1-1 Accountability & Problem-Solving Calls

And you can take advantage of this wherever you are in the world and with whatever equipment you have access to!

Looking to book your complimentary consult? Click here to start your journey of becoming pain-free!

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