The Power of Movement

The Power of Movement

By: Stacey Van Schyndel

We have a poster in our clinic that was put out by APTEI (Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute) which states: “If you’re thirsty, you need to drink.  If you’re hungry, you need to eat.  If you’re in pain, you need to move.”  Despite having numerous motivational signs and posters in our clinic, this simple poster seems to resonate with our clients more than any of the others.  It will stick with them long after they have been discharged.  When I run into them later in the community, they will often quote it back to me.  They will tell me about how they were having a bad pain day and then they remembered the poster.  They got themselves moving and they felt better.   Why does this poster work more than others?   What is it about this statement that sticks with our clients?  I believe it’s the simplicity of the statement.  While it sounds intuitive, it does not come easy for most of us.  It’s human nature to avoid pain, protect a sore joint and favour our injuries.  We are often fearful of making our injury worse and I believe this is a big reason why many injuries linger; it prevents the natural healing process.   A good example of this would be an arthritic joint.  With arthritis, the cause of the pain is typically the loss of mobility, or range of motion, loss of strength and loss of joint proprioception versus the actual arthritis.  There is a lot of research to support this and, in fact,  many adults who have no pain will have arthritic changes on their x-rays.  Why do some people have pain then and others do not?  It goes back to lack of movement.  This lack of movement will cause a loss of joint health and then loss of mobility, loss of strength and loss of proprioception which then creates pain and then it repeats in a cyclical fashion. 

The premise of ‘If you are sore, you need to move’ goes hand in hand with some of one of our favorite sayings – ‘Motion is Lotion’ or ‘It’s Sore but Safe’.  These, and other, statements are designed to decrease fear and encourage us to move which will maintain our mobility and strength.  So, the next time you are sore, instead of avoiding movement and remaining sedentary, remember these sayings.  Keep yourself moving and that will allow your body to start the healing process.  Don’t feel like you need to be doing things at pre-injury level – small, gentle movements are often a great way to start.  Listen to your body and keep it easy but try to increase your activity level every day.  These small steps will break the pain cycle and before you know it you will be back to your regular activities. 

If you need help figuring out how to keep moving through your pain/injury, our Physiotherapists and Athletic Therapist at ProActive Rehab are happy to help.  Please contact us at 705-788-1480 or check us out on our website at 


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