No pain, no gain
SHOULD EXERCISE HURT TO BE BENEFICIAL?
Physical activity shouldn’t trigger excessive pain or agony. Pain is a warning sign from your body that things are not right, and continuing to exercise with pain can do more harm than good. Unfortunately, sayings like “no pain, no gain” can discourage people from being active. Yet exercise without pain can offer considerable benefits to your health and wellbeing.
JUST HOW HARD SHOULD YOU PUSH YOURSELF?
The reason why exercise myths like “no pain, no gain” linger on is that there is an element of truth to it. However, it’s important to differentiate between good pain and bad pain. After training for a month or two, your body will be better prepared to deal with a little “burn” during more intense exercise. You may experience this good pain or muscle “burn” when lifting heavier weights or during interval training when you up the intensity of your workouts. But you don’t need to push yourself to the extreme, especially if you are a beginner.
WHAT IF I EXPERIENCE PAIN DURING EXERCISE?
If you have pain that is uncomfortable, it’s important not to work through it. Stop exercising immediately if you experience severe pain. Before starting a new exercise program, it may be wise to speak with your doctor or physiotherapist about how exercise can fit into your lifestyle. They can take into account the specific type and extent of pain you suffer from in addition to any postural concerns, and determine what activities would suit you best. They may also recommend stretching or strengthening exercises, or low impact activities like cycling or swimming.
WHAT ABOUT PAIN AFTER EXERCISE?
If you are just beginning a new training program, or are returning to exercise after an extended layoff or injury, be warned. You may experience a little muscle soreness the day after working out as your body transitions from inactive to active. This is normal, and can occur in the first 2-3 weeks of a new exercise program. To help prevent or minimise any soreness, exercise at a very light to moderate level, making sure you feel comfortable, not comatose. A good stretch after your workout may also help. Afterwards you should feel energised and refreshed, not fatigued and frazzled. Over a period of several weeks, gradually build up the duration and intensity of your workouts. Don’t try to do too much, too soon.
WILL YOU GET BETTER RESULTS IF EXERCISE “HURTS”?
If you want to get super fit through cardiovascular exercise such as running and interval training, or add muscle tone and strength through heavy weight training, you may have to experience what some people might perceive as pain. If you want to look like an athlete, you need to train like an athlete. But some athletes grow to enjoy this “pain” or “burn”, knowing what benefits the feeling brings. If your body is fi t and prepared, your tolerance for this type of “good pain” is much higher than a beginner or moderate level exerciser.
IS GENTLE “PAIN-FREE” EXERCISE A WASTE OF TIME?
Absolutely not. Think of exercises like stretching, yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. They focus on improving your breathing, flexibility, mobility and balance without overly vigorous movement. These mind-body exercises can help to manage stress and allow your body to function at its best. They are also a great complement to other forms of exercise such as cardiovascular and resistance training, helping to give you a well-rounded exercise program.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE IS TOO MUCH?
Some of the common warning signs and symptoms that you may be overtraining include:
* Low energy levels, fatigue and tiredness
* Low motivation and reduced enthusiasm for training
* Muscle soreness
* Poor performance
* Mood swings and irritability
Listen to your body. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above (especially in the first 2-4 weeks of a new exercise program), take a few days off. Rest and recovery is an important phase of every exercise program.