Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Baby steps remix

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

A few days ago I posted this cute photo of my baby self taking baby steps, accompanied by this here pithy advice:

The “secret” sauce for most training and rehab is baby steps, consistently for a long time. People get hurt when they try to do too much, too soon. People stay hurt when they try to do too much, too soon.

Funny thing is, I’d already written a short item about baby steps, and forgot to use it! It was supposed to be the text that went with that photo. And now, without further adieu, is what I meant to say …

The key to most injury rehabilitation and training is baby steps, consistently over annoyingly long periods. Almost no matter what’s wrong with you, you can always safely and productively push yourself to do just slightly more than you are comfortable with.

People get progression wrong in two ways: they go too fast and burnout (injured or frustrated or exhausted), or they keep it slow but get bored or distracted and lose focus. If you can actually just keep taking small steps, it’s nearly impossible not to succeed. You “just” have to be consistent over time (you know, a behavioural pattern most homo sapiens find to be nearly impossible.)