Oooh, Baby! Yeah, Make it Hurt so Good!
by LaDonna Spivey
We’ve all heard it, “No Pain. No Gain”. But what exactly does that mean when it comes to exercise? I once had a client come to a halt and just sit down during a workout. When I asked her what was wrong she looked at me as if it was the most obvious thing in the world . Fanning her face she replied, “I’m starting to sweat. I’m getting hot.”
Um Yeah. That’s why it’s called working out. If you weren’t supposed to be a little uncomfortable it would be called relaxing out.
But how do you tell between the honest muscle burn and discomfort that comes with pushing yourself and the signals your body gives to warn you that something is wrong? How do you know whether or not to push through the pain or back off? Even seasoned athletes sometimes miss the signs, but the signs are there.
Good Pain. Good pain tends to be gradual and build as you exercise. For example, when you first start jogging you might not feel much discomfort. However as you keep running you become winded. Your body cannot get enough oxygen to the large muscles in your legs and lactic acid starts to build up. Your thighs start to burn and your breathing becomes labored. That’s an example of good pain and you can push through it. You can expect some DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the next day, but in all likelihood nothing but your pride will be damaged. On the other hand, if you are running and suddenly a sharp pain shoots from your knee down the front of your leg or through your thigh, that’s probably bad pain and you should stop and see a doctor — especially if the pain persists or reoccurs. Also, good pain tends to be spread over a general region like your thighs, butt, or arms.
Bad Pain. Pain that causes or is the result of injury has a few unique properties. Bad pain tends to be sudden and sharp. It can also feel like it is radiating or “shooting.” If you hear something “pop” or if a joint suddenly gives way, your body is giving you a definite red flag. You should seek medical advice before continuing. Any pain in your joints should be cause for concern.
Often good pain turns bad when people push themselves too far or don’t give their body time to rest. Sometimes when we are all revved up to start a new workout we go from zero to 100 — especially those of us who were high school or college athletes. Perhaps you used to run faster than a locomotive and leap tall buildings in a single bound. That was then. If you want to remain active into your twilight years, you have to be nice to your body now. Your body has taken a lot of guff from you, so you have to give it time to get back into the groove.
Our bodies recuperates and build muscle after we work out. During a workout you make tiny micro-tears in your muscle tissue. When you give your muscles time to rest, your body fixes those tears with stronger tissue. That’s how you build strength and endurance. You must factor in some rest days. If not, you can easily turn good pain bad with overuse injuries.
And don’t let your ego or even a personal trainer push you past your common sense limit. We all have that little voice that tells us to do right. We choose to ignore it usually at our own peril.
Working out definitely requires that you put in some hard work, but it should not cause injury. We all start at a different point on this path to good health. Stay in your lane. Use wisdom. Work hard. Eat right.
And if you get hot, sweat, or breathe hard — Good for you! You’re doing something right!
See you next week, and remember, no matter your shape, size, age or ability you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
LaDonna Spivey is an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer and founder of Kingdom Fitness Gulf Coast. If you have questions, or for more information call (850)221-3151, visit www.getkingdomfit.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.