Monday Musings: Understanding the Many Shades of Injury Pain

I am in the midst of trying to understand and be one with my SI pain, because it seems to be lingering for longer than I’d like. What I am learning is that pain is not singularly defined.  No, it is complex, like a fine wine…but not really, because wine is delicious and this injury is a pain in the ass (at times, quite literally).


My SI pain exists on a spectrum that runs from I-can’t-put-my-own-pants-on to non-existent. On any given day, my task is to figure out where on that spectrum my pain lies, and to pick a suitable form of exercise to minimize additional damage.  The extreme ends are the easiest to figure out. In the ‘i-can’t-put-my-own-pants-on’ range, I do nothing but feel sorry for myself. In the ‘non-existent’ range, I do whatever the hell I want.  The problem is, most of my pain doesn’t sit neatly on either extreme end of the spectrum. No, that would just be too easy.

Instead, I am forced to differentiate between a broad range of pain cues, trying to figure out if I am appropriately pushing through pain or wreaking havoc on an already aggravated SI.  In other words, it often feels like a guessing game.  To date, this the body of knowledge that I’ve acquired about my SI pain and exercise:

  • Sharp stabbing spasms around the tailbone on impact while running: stop immediately. This seems obvious, but trust me when I say it took me a while to stop trying to run through it.
  • Slight “pulling” sensation on the right or left of my SI: proceed with caution, slow down and pay close attention. This is the trickster of my SI pain. Half the time it goes away within 5 more minutes of running. The other half of the time it gets progressively worse.
  • Odd grinding sensation, as if the bones of my ilium are grinding directly against the sacrum (yes, that is the best possible description I can think of): keep going if running, but slow the pace and pay attention to un-hunching my shoulders and leaning forward slightly.  If hiking uphill, shorten stride and make sure hips are hinged.  Push through. It will stop hurting.
  • Tightness around the tailbone: no running, no strength training unless highly controlled and with very light weight. Stick to the spin bike, and maybe uphill hiking (but never downhill).

Everything else is a complete and utter mystery to me.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the human body is a wondrous thing but she is highly perplexing. So if anyone out there has mastered interpreting the pain spectrum and can offer sage wisdom, I am all ears.


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