When you go to see your sports medicine doctor or physiotherapist you may receive exercises as part of your treatment that are designed to help with your condition. These exercises may be ones that you do with your physiotherapist, at home or even the gym, you may even need to set an appointment with a chiropractor for further treatment if have gotten injured recently.

As a patient you may be wondering, is it okay to experience pain when I do my exercises?

Some recent research talks about whether patient exercises should be painful, and finds that there are some positive benefits to exercising in to pain.

This means that therapists are being encouraged to give exercises to patients where some pain is allowed. 

With this approach you may find that you reproduce or even aggravate your pain or symptoms temporarily with your exercises but the good news is, this is often okay. 

In the research articles referenced below, we are seeing some nice ideas to help guide patients with their exercises and levels of pain.  These include:

  • Using the pain scale out of 10 as a guide.  Your level of pain should only reach a maximumof 5/10 during or after the exercise.
  • Your pain or symptoms should settle again immediately or soon after.  Worst case, pain should settle within 24 hours and without significant sleep disturbance.
  • If you are able to cope with the level of pain, most likely you can continue the exercise (or activity).  If you are not able to cope with the level of pain, decrease what you are doing.  Once you are able to cope with the level of pain, slowly build back up again. 
  • Exercise is important, it will help your painful area become strong again.
  • Exercise modification is important. Your therapist can advise you on how to make your exercises easier or harder using your symptoms as a guide.

Thanks for reading.


Smith BE, et al Br J Sports Med 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28596288

Smith et al, et al. Br J Sports Med 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29925503

Disclaimer:  this information is for your education/information and should not be considered medical/physiotherapy advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations.

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