Following the "no pain, no gain” mantra will guarantee you an injury sooner or later. Ignoring important pain signals coming from your body is not only ill-advised, but it can cause serious harm. Listening to your body is a better, healthier way to improve your strength, flexibility and performance.
You CAN achieve peak performance without pain or injury. When you workout, whether you are a part time or more regular athlete, heed the messages your body is sending, and get good at hearing those messages at their earliest stage — be aware of a slight ache, pull or fatigue.
Yet, most of us only stop when symptoms become severe and painful. If we learn to slow down or stop at the stage before this, we’ll have a powerful tool for preventing injury. If you pick up on the slight ache, the pull, or the area of fatigue quickly, you are practicing awareness of the body in a stage where you can do something about the problem.
Follow these steps to help break the belief of “no pain, no gain” and start listening to and protecting your body:
1. Stop thinking that pain = progress.
Realize that “no pain, no gain” is an outdated, ineffective, possibly dangerous way to go about your workout routine. Begin by believing that there’s a healthier way.
2. Get more in tune with your body.
Start practicing feeling what it’s like to inhabit your body during the day. Feel what’s going on. Pay attention to what you notice. The practice of body awareness is your first and most important tool on the road to healing and improved performance.
3. Be more alert to aches and pain.
The next time you notice an ache, pull or fatigue in your body, recognize it as a quiet message to pay attention and actually listen.
4. Take steps to feel better.
Address the feeling you notice by resting, incorporating some pain-free cross training into your routine or seeking a movement professional for more complex or chronic conditions. Don’t ignore those messages! Taking action quickly will help you prevent the problem from getting worse.
I would like you to look at how you define pain and what your history and behavior have shown you. Take a close look at what you normally do when you feel pain. Are you feeling the signs before pain occurs? Do you push through your pain? What are your beliefs around this? How are they working for you and the goals you have for your body and performance? It could be time for a change!