I’ll start off by saying in no way is pain cool. Let’s get that straight.
We know that pain is real and individualized.
When it comes to training, let’s loosely use the word pain to describe an injury like a muscle strain, joint inflammation, extreme muscle soreness, or higher levels of fatigue.
Pain is a part of life, exercise, and inevitable. How you view pain will often dictate how you feel about your experiences and how you navigate through them. Or, pain can stunt your growth.
On a recent video Vlog, one of my mentors in the fitness space described pain as a guide. Coming off of a recent elbow injury, I loved that idea, and it got me thinking…
As a full-time coach for over a decade, I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum regarding our members and pain. For the most part, individuals who want to push their bodies to the limits will experience higher levels of pain. Those that simply want to move, will experience lesser levels of pain.
As your coaches, we want to help. We can’t stress enough the importance of warming up properly, mobilizing to increase your range of motion, scaling properly, taking rest days or even deload weeks, and working on breathing property and bracing during your lifts.
We also have a vast network of physical therapists, chiropractors, orthopedics, and rehabilitation specialist, and if it’s out of our wheelhouse, we will refer you accordingly.
But let’s be clear: pain is not something to ignore. Yes, you want to be mentally and physically durable and work through some discomfort, but there’s a better way to view pain.
So, how do you establish a healthy relationship with pain?
Firstly, you can start by having a healthy internal dialogue with yourself about your pain. Ideally, you don’t undermine it, or make a mountain out of a molehill, especially in the beginning stages. But just being more aware of how you’re feeling is a great start.
Secondly, you could also use pain as a day-to-day guide. If you have no pain, you can push a little more that day. If you’re in pain, that means you need to back off, or commit yourself to actions that will promote healing or recovery.
Thirdly, pain can also bring awareness to a movement pattern. Something seems tight, or even too lose, that should give you some insight. For instance, if your low back is sore one day and we program heavy deadlifts, maybe you shouldn’t barbell deadlift, but still work the same movement pattern, such as glute bridges, sumo kettlebell deadlift, grip work, or even build-in mobility into your training session. This will certainly move the needle forward.
If you can use pain as a barometer to your training and movement quality, it can be an incredible assessment tool to aid in improvement and recovery.
Last but not least, don’t underestimate the importance of sleep, nutrition, and hydration. These may be the most important tools you have at your disposal.
Pain is part of life and unavoidable. Why not change the way you think about pain and see it as a guide for change instead of being the enemy or obstacle?
With all this said, if you’re currently dealing with pain, please let us know. We’re in the business of helping people stay healthy, not only for the hour a day, but for your lifetime.