No Pain. No Gain? A Question on the Purpose of Pain:

12 December 2012
Mental Edge
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When Fans React to Injury

Have you ever noticed the reactions of fans when someone gets injured during a game? In some sports, like soccer, the reaction carries a high level of anger especially if a player on the other team curls over to kill time on the clock. In other sports, fans clamor for the return of their player. In general, it seems as if fans believe a player ought to play if they are not only able to walk but also able to complete sporting motions, no matter the pain.

Everyone wants their players to grit out results despite the potential long-term effects of such actions. In general, fans expect athletes to play through pain and be stronger than the discomfort they might feel. Fans want the “No Pain. No Gain” mentality.

Pain: A Reason to Listen to Your Body

But “No Pain, No Gain” is a misnomer.

Pain is a sensory and emotional experience associated with potential injury. Pain is not something meant to grit through; it is meant as an indicator that you should stop what you are doing.

As a general rule of thumb, listen to your body. The signals of pain mean something you are doing is causing a potential injury. It is not about “weakness leaving the body.”

Catching a Signal in the Noise

However, it is important to differentiate between “pain” and “discomfort” during your workouts. There’s a difference between sharp, full-fledged pain and discomforting stiffness or light fatigue. When you work on an underdeveloped muscle group, expect some potential muscle soreness after you are done. In fact, you might even feel some stiffness in your warm ups.

Also, people respond differently to a wide variety of exercises. For some people, running feels inherently unpleasant. We all have different pain levels.

The better you can define what you are feeling, the better you will be able to listen to your body and avoid injury.

Push Your Body to the Limits, Not Beyond

The fans complaining about a lack of “toughness” in their favorite athletes are promoting the “old school” mentality of “No Pain. No Gain.” You know your body best and you know the signals it sends. Rome wasn’t build in a day and neither is your athletic performance. When you train, remember your goals, remember the purpose behind it. But don’t forget to listen. If your workout plan causes pain or you don’t know where to stop, contact us! We’ll work with you to create a safe and attainable exercise program.

What steps can you take to listen to your body?