The last few weeks have been some of the strangest few weeks we have EVER experienced. Lockdown has been going on for the past 6 weeks. As a result of this, our training routines and methods have also had to change. Some are training more. others are training less. And, unfortunately, we have seen an increase in pain and injury. It has also sparked the question from a number of our Glen Iris based patients asking, “Is there such a thing as good pain”? This article outlines our views on the subject.
With any sporting activity, gym routine or exercise program, there is always a strong desire to push yourself and your body to the limit. To be better than you were yesterday. The desire to test what your body can endure. How much is mental pain? How much is physical pain? This is a very personal question. And will differ from person to person. But have you ever questioned how much pain should you “push through” to achieve these goals”? Here are my thoughts:
As you are most probably aware and have no doubt experienced in the past, you are going to feel some discomfort when working out. The odd niggle here, a twinge there. Shortness of breath on the rower, and the inevitable soreness that comes a few days later. This is the dreaded DOMS. It goes without saying that these sensations are part of training and “come with the territory”. Realistically, if you were to stop training at the first inkling of pain we’d never get anywhere and never see any results.
So how much pain should you put up within a workout? The answer to this question is a question in itself. Are you experiencing PAIN or DISCOMFORT?
Carly Ryan and Exercise Physiologist say’s “effort and discomfort go together and that’s what most people would call good pain – you generally expect to feel some level of discomfort,” But “If it becomes actual pain – burning, stabbing or sharp – that’s not a good sign and you should stop”.
Pain is your body trying to warn you that there may be a problem. If you have ever experienced a tearing sensation or a pop as a muscle or ligament becomes compromised. You will know this is not good pain. Similarly, pain that is sharp and intense, and located at a joint or bone is serious We quickly become aware of the pain, as it is the body’s protective system kicking in. This is not something we should ignore or attempt to “train through”. Ignoring these warning signs is risky behavior as it may result in a more serious or long- term injury. Generally speaking, Bad pain will result in an injury and a period of time away from exercise if not treated with respect. We always advocate seeking advice if you think you have injured yourself. The quicker the better.
During a work out we are going to experience some level of discomfort. This could be the uncomfortable feeling that comes with training. You may have experienced that heaviness you feel in your legs as the muscles begin to fatigue. Or the burn in your lungs as they struggle to get enough oxygen into your body. The slow build-up of lactic acid, and results in the inability of your muscles to function any more. That is GOOD pain. This is where they talk about the “magic happening. Where you need to exist outside of your comfort zone for growth too occur. We build up a tolerance to this. And trust me, it does improve. And it does end. You may experience this discomfort for a few days, but each day gets better.
So what is the DISCOMFORT PAIN you are experiencing?
Generally speaking the “Discomfort pain” we feel during vigorous exercise and eases once your intensity drops are most likely Lactic acid build-up. Lactic acid is a by-product of energy production that occurs when the body does not have enough oxygen to produce this energy. The longer you continue to exercise the more lactic acid is produced and the more discomfort you may feel. As we mentioned above, once your intensity drops, your energy demand drops, and the oxygen delivery is sufficient to produce energy without the lactic acid build-up. This is why it improves once your intensity reduces.
The other factor to consider when talking about exercise-induced pain is DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS is a common effect that results in pain/stiffness a few days after your training session. This is the body adapting to the increase and possibly unfamiliar use of certain muscles. This should ease after a few days. If this feeling lingers for longer, it is possible you may have done too much too soon and should maybe seek some help from a professional.
SO as you can see, it is normal to experience some form of pain as we train. You should be familiar with your own body, and its limitations. It goes without saying that the best way to prevent injury is to know your body and your own limitations. Participating in a good warm-up, cool down, regular stretching, and scheduling lighter sessions will all help reduce the likelihood of “bad pain”. Remember a little bit of discomfort is needed to achieve great results – BUT know your limitations and work within your own capabilities.
As always if you feel you need some assistance get in touch with us. We offer a FREE 15 phone consult or a FREE Movement Screen Analysis. No obligations just our honest opinion and advice.