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    Pop Up Pain Relief

    By Cinder Ernst–

    The last time we talked about muscle pain that comes from exercising, and how to know if you are on the right track. This time we are going to talk about what I call pop up pain. Pop up pain happens out of the blue and it can be familiar or new. For example, my knee will sometimes go from not hurting at all to hurting pretty sharply. As far as I can tell, this pain is not in response to some activity or position. The pain just pops up.

    Over the years I have developed a particular response to the above-mentioned pop up knee pain. Notice that I say I developed the response over the course of years. I used to feel worried when I would feel a sharp pain out of nowhere. Feeling worried would lead down a particular path with me thinking, “Oh no—what did I do? Oh no, this is going to ruin my plan to (fill in the blank). Oh no, will I have to go to the doctor?” The doctor thought can then lead to a whole bunch of other worrisome thoughts.

    Pop up pain is not caused by an in the moment injury. Acute injury pain is another topic all together.

    What I noticed over the years about the pop up pain was that it would often resolve itself quickly. It would be there for a minute, more or less, and then be gone. Since I am all about making friends with my body, I decided to react to the pain differently. So, when I felt the pop up knee pain, I would say, “Thanks for sharing, knee. I hear ya.” I knew I could not ignore the pain, but I did not want to make it a big deal.

    In the moment that I thank my knee for sharing, I relax a bit about it and then wonder if there is something I can do to soothe the pain. The train of thought that my knee is just talking to me and that I can help my own self feels empowering to me. One of the results of working with me in my six-month program is that my clients learn that pain doesn’t automatically mean stop and worry. Sometimes a simple Easy Fitness small step exercise will contribute to feeling better.

    Pain is always an indicator to do something different—like rest, stop, stretch, move, ice, or medicate, to name a few. With pop up pain, the first step is to thank your body for sharing. The next step is to get curious about what might help. Sometimes just that easy pause and a relaxed attitude is all that are required. Relax, breathe, all is well, carry on. See what happens next.

    For pop up knee pain, squeeze in your posterior muscle (yes, you read that right!) and then walk for a bit to see how you feel. Search on YouTube for “Miracle Knee Cinder Ernst” for another great soothing option. The Miracle Knee exercise fires the quadriceps muscle in the front of your thigh. This is a great strengthening/soothing option too. At Easy Fitness, we know that motion is lotion.

    Another great soother for pop up pain in your knee, hip or back is the Tush Tilt. You can find instructions for that exercise on my YouTube channel. Just search “Tush Tilt Cinder Ernst” and it should come right up. You can also do the Tush Tilt standing, which is a great option for pop up pain that happens while you are walking.

    Be gentle with yourself and your body. Relax whenever possible, and get curious about what your body communicates to you.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Find out more at