By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer
Pain is, well, painful. There is no way around it. It is almost ludicrous to think my clients pay me to put them through exercises that sometimes can cause nearly unbearable levels of pain – and keep coming back.
Why? Because they can’t bring themselves to a certain level of intensity when they work out on their own. It is a natural human reaction to avoid things that are painful, right?. I often joke with my clients: “I’m not sure which is crazier: paying someone to put you through obscene intense workouts or being able to put yourself through obscene intense workouts.”
So to be able to keep pushing through when everything in your body is telling you to stop takes either an enormous amount of self-discipline (and a slight level of insanity) or someone hovering over you telling you to keep going no matter how bad it hurts.
Push through the pain. Sometimes.
YOUR BODY IS TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING
The human nervous system is a communication superhighway and pain is the body’s only way of sending an alert – an “S.O.S.” if you will – that there is something destructive happening. Your body doesn’t know the difference between trauma from an injury, a car wreck, surgery or working out. All it knows is that the body is being torn down, ripped apart and broken. And it can be painful .
This is when it is crucial to know your body’s different types of pain sensations, which takes a certain level of body awareness and mind/body connection. You have to learn what kind of pain is the “good” kind of pain – the pain you want to try and push through during a workout – and what is the “bad” kind of pain – the pain that is associated with an existing injury or a minor pain that could lead to a major injury.
The good kind of pain lactic acid buildup, muscle-burning sensation in the targeted muscle group(s) and secondary muscles associated with the workout being conducted.
The bad kind of pain sharp, shooting pain in any area of the body while conducting an exercise movement; aching, tingling or numbing, painful throbbing or other unusual type of pain experienced in any area of the body while conducting an exercise movement.
You need to learn your body and what the “good” pain of the muscles working and tearing down feels like. That is typically the only pain you should be feeling during a workout. All other pain, no matter how seemingly minor, should be tended to and not ignored. I err on the side of caution and take my clients’ health and safety seriously. If they are experiencing any slight pain in any area, we avoid that area completely until the pain is gone. Many times, my clients will tell me “It’s nothing, it’s not that bad. I’m fine, I can push through it.” And I then get on my soap box about how pushing through the bad kind of pain will only lead to more bad kind of pain and potentially not being able to work out for a long period of time if an injury occurs. Guys – it’s not worth it!
Here are some ways you can do a self-check on assessing your pain:
1) Do you only feel a muscle-burning sensation in the muscles being targeted when you work out?
2) Does the pain feel “normal” or is it different than the usual pain? (for example, a pinch in your shoulder muscle during certain movements of a shoulder workout)
3) With a chronic, reoccurring pain not associated with muscle burn – is it getting worse over time?
Here are a few things you can do temporarily to ease any existing minor pain both associated with muscle soreness and any inflamed or aggravated areas:
1) Take an appropriate recovery source, such as L-Glutamine and other branched chain amino acids to help repair muscles broken down from working out.
2) Icing sore muscles will help ease inflammation and help to prevent prolonged or intense soreness.
3) Proper nutrition intake, including protein, carbs, and fats from healthy sources, as well as adequate amounts of calories for your body and your goals, will help provide building blocks for the body to repair and recover.
4) Avoid any exercises or movements that induce the bad kind of pain and keep an eye on that sensation when conducting any exercises.
Here are things you can do on a regular basis to help prevent potential injury:
1) Schedule regular deep tissue or other therapeutic massages.
2) Schedule regular chiropractor adjustments.
3) Stretch daily, multiple times a day if possible, especially post-workout.
4) Include foam-rolling as part of your post workout stretching routine and/or at any other times throughout the week.
YOUR PAIN THRESHHOLD
After working with hundreds of different types of people throughout the years, I have learned that everyone has different pain thresholds. Some cringe at the very first minor sensation of lactic acid burn and are ready to stop then and there while others can work out for 45 minutes to an hour while feeling intense burn and pain throughout the entire workout.
One can actually build up quite a tolerance to pain if the body is introduced to it frequently and consistently overtime. Your mind finds a way to cope with the daily introduction of physical pain, so you can build up a mental tolerance to physical pain and are therefore mentally able to withstand higher levels of intense pain. Even with a higher pain threshold, however, it is still crucial to not push through the bad kind of pain.
It is negligent to continue working out an area of the body that is clearly screaming at you that there is something wrong. We’d like to think our minds can overcome the annoying pain of a minor injury (slight pull or tear, etc.). I hate to tell you but in this case, the body will ALWAYS win. And, believe me, you don’t want the body to force you to pay attention to it.
The body will ask you nicely with a mild, annoying pain at first. If you ignore it an push through it, eventually your body will break and give you a great big “see, I told you so” kind of pain that you won’t be able to ignore. So in your quest for a healthier, fitter, stronger body, don’t ignore the warning signs that you might be breaking it beyond repair.
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ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.