- BLOG -
We’ve all heard the saying, “No pain, no gain” but how true is it?
Do you really have to push yourself to your absolute limit during training so that you’re close to injury or ask your massage therapist to go as hard as they can before you achieve any results?
The simple answer is no.
But there can be a way to use “pain” to your advantage and still see gains.
Types of Pain:
When we think about pain, we generally think of it as a negative thing. This is true the majority of the time, but there are many different types of pain, both “bad” and “good”.
“Bad” pain can be described as:
- Acute, sharp, dull, aching, stabbing, shooting, electrical, cramping, deep, throbbing, pinching, hot, constant or pressure
- Heavy and aching muscles after exercise
- An overly sensitive or tender area during a massage that does not improve as the treatment goes on
“Good” pain can be described as:
- Feeling your muscles working during exercise: Warmth, stretching, strength, power and performance
- Having tender areas treated during a massage and feeling them release
- Slight ache post-exercise
The purpose of pain is to tell you that something is happening in your body, whether it be good or bad. It’s vital to listen to this feedback system for self-preservation or self-motivation.
“Feedback pain” presents in the form of an adaptation. It reflects a positive change in the body and is a part of the body’s adaptation to activity or physical load. Eg. Learning how to cope when performing something new.
You can use this “pain” to your advantage to see results in your training. Tuning in to this helps you understand what is happening to your brain and body and you can set a benchmark of your current ability and a goal to work towards.
Take for example powerlifting.
When you first learn how to lift a heavy weight, you can experience a dizzy feeling afterwards. Although this may be uncomfortable for a few seconds and present itself as “pain” or a lack of nutrition or hydration, it’s actually your body giving you feedback that you’re doing it right!
This dizzy feeling is your brain telling you that it’s receiving information loud and clear and is processing it as fast as possible. It’s your whole system resetting itself and allowing the new stimulus to be received so that you learn the new pattern of how to lift the weight. The more you do it, the faster the information is processed and the more natural the pattern becomes, reducing the feeling of dizziness.
The same concept applies to something as simple as increasing the weight when performing a bicep curl. You can feel the slight burn of exertion, but you’re not really in “pain” or at risk of injury. You can feel that you can lift the weight, so this is your new benchmark. Once you get used to this weight, you can increase it again to your next goal weight.
This same concept can equally be applied to setting and achieving power or time based goals on your bike - whether they be during intervals on your trainer or up for favourite climb!
So when you’re exercising, you need to consider what your training goals are and what type of pain you’re experiencing. Is it good, bad or feedback? This will help you determine if you are safe to continue, need to stop immediately to avoid injury, or use the information your body is giving you to set a benchmark and work towards your goals.
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