When it comes to pain, there is a definite difference between “good” pain and “bad” pain. I am sure you have heard people use the phrase “push through pain” and while this can be the appropriate thing to do at times, there are times when this is not appropriate and has the potential to result in an injury. Before you put yourself at risk here are some ways to assess the difference between good and bad pain.
“Good” pain in a nutshell is…..
- A general overall feeling – it’s not specific. This means it does not have a specific point of origin or focus ( i.e.,”Ouch! My knee hurts”)
- Something that happens when you try a new exercise or workout after a long break. This is normal because you’re either new or RUSTY!
- Something that DOES NOT interrupt your sleep. You should not be in so much pain that you lose sleep!
- Something that gradually disappears once you slow down, stop exercising or eventually, acclimate. The only exception to this being Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which is the soreness you get a couple days after some exercise. This pain should reduce within 72 hours, and be gone completely within 5-7 days)
If your “pain” can be found as described above, this is the kind of pain that it is ok to “push through”. However, do not overlook how extremely important rest is. Neglecting to adequately rest is almost as bad as getting no exercise at all. Simply put, your body needs time to recover and repair. If you neglect to set aside time for rest, a seemingly minor pain can turn into a much larger pain and even worse, an injury. The most important thing to do is to listen to your body, and if your gut is telling you that you need a day off, TAKE IT!
On the flipside, “Bad” pain is….
- A specific pain (i.e. “my foot, my right heel, my neck, etc.”)
- Something that does not go away once you stop exercising – you can feel it as you move about your day normally
- It lingers and it’s persistent
- It makes sleep difficult
- Something that negatively affects performance and makes things that are usually easy, feel hard or down right hurt
- It makes you moody – AND/OR frustrated, angry, or anxious
- It leaves you fatigued more than usual
- It makes your joints, bones, muscles or limbs hurt
- It weakens your immune system and causes you to get sick
If you find yourself with this kind of pain, you are walking a fine line and/or close to injury, or you are already injured. Continuing to push your body will make the pain worse and if it hasn’t already, result in an injury, which will make the time needed to heal and fully recover even longer. Thus, if you find anything in the “Bad pain” section listed above applicable to something you are currently experiencing, your best bet is to stop training until the pain resolves on it’s own, and if it does not, seek professional help. Taking these precautions will help you heal efficiently, get you back out there faster and allow you to be active for many years to come!