The more questions I get regarding pain the more I am starting to realize that there are many who cannot distinguish between pain, fatigue, muscle soreness, and muscle discomfort.  The old saying “No pain, no gain” is often misinterpreted and people will continue to work through pain without understanding what is causing it.  Our bodies are smart and pain is often a signal that something is wrong.

Of course your ass is going to be sore after you squat with a heavy weight and if you are squatting properly your body is going to reply by making you stronger and more fit.  Just remember that post-exercise muscle fatigue should not last longer than 48 hours.  Soreness is the by-product of training and unlike the show Jersey Shore, this is a good thing.  So bang out that extra rep or push through that fatigue and lets see that fist pump.  (I watched it for the first time on Friday and my got a sunburn…never again)

In my opinion, the first step to eliminating pain is to understand it.  If the check engine light came on in your car would you ignore it or get your car checked out?  Think of pain as your check engine light and rather then continuing to drive around until other things go wrong get it checked out.  There are usually several different factors that can be contributing and it is extremely important to get to the cause so you can fix it.  Here are a few solutions:

  1. You have poor form – There can be a problem right from the get go if you don’t have proper posture and body alignment.  If your shoulders are set forward, your hip flexors are tighter than a walnut and your posture resembles that of a caveman you can start there.
  2. You have poor technique – Bullets don’t kill people, people kill people.  The same is true for certain exercises such as squats.  Squats aren’t hurting your knees, whatever movement some people want to call a squat is hurting their knees.
  3. You didn’t warm up – If it is important then do it everyday.  Your warmup is the best way to prevent both pain and injury.  Before EVERY workout I foamroll, stretch, activate the proper muscles, and do a few light sets of the day’s exercises.  Did I say I do this everyday?
  4. You didn’t stretch – Pain usually manifests itself at the joints because something, somewhere is tight (thats my scientific terminology).  You don’t know how many people tell me they know they should stretch but they don’t have enough time.  Are you f!*$ing serious?
  5. You have a muscle imbalance – These imbalances happen because we have and continue to neglect points 1-4.  Our bodies compensate by getting tight in some places and weak in others.  Tight hips and weak glutes sound familiar?  It’s probably what is creating your back pain.

So instead of allowing your body to compensate for pain it may be in your best benefit to understand what you can do to correct these imbalances.  I believe that the saying “no pain, no gain” should be updated to “know pain, know gain” because unless you are able to identify what is holding you back there is no way you are going to make gains.

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Written by Steve