Don’t fear pain; re-define the term

Muscles often burn when we exercise. People I know sometimes describe this burning as “pain”. Muscles often get sore after we exercise. People I know sometimes describe this soreness as “pain”. Muscles occasionally ache when we exercise. People I know often refer to this as “pain”.   Me?  Momma raised me right, so I don’t use the “P” word. I much prefer the term; sensation to describe my exercise experience – has certain romance to it, don’t ya think?

Muscle that burn, light the fire of progress..

When muscle burns, the fire of progress gets lit..

A burning sensation. A sore sensation. An achy sensation; like little reality checks for the infrastructure of our senses, and the carpentry of our design. Perception is everything says the physicist, and perception can redefine attitudes. Attitude is everything, says the optimist, and the right attitude can help you embrace your workouts, rather than fear them.

If it were easy, we would all look like this...

If it were easy, we would all look like this...

The term sensation can also be used as a synonym for inventory. When muscles burn, when they are sore, when they ache just a bit, that sensation is a great inventory of what we are made of – a nice reminder that we’re made of stuff more tangible than the attitudes and egos we cast about us each day. We are made of flesh; something we forget too often in this highly advanced era we live in. Flesh needs cultivation to flourish, and sensation reminds us of where we stand in the cultivation process. 



Were all athletes under this skin  Do you know what youre made of...?

We're all athletes under the skin. Do you know what you're made of...?

Most of the people I work with are over 40 – including myself. Many of my clients are over 60. I have some clients into their 80’s, and a few who are young enough to be my children. Regardless of age, most of my clients (myself included) experience regular periods of muscle burning, onset muscle soreness, and muscle occasional aches. I am okay with this – even for fitness enthusiasts into their 80’s, for this is not true pain.

When one challenges the human machine regularly, one can expect to experience some level of these sensations – especially in the beginning, or if we step away from our exercise regimen for a period of time. The more regularly we exercise, the less we will succumb to such sensations. However, as the routines of our exercise change (and they should), new exercises are introduced (and they should be), or workout cadence and pace changes (and it should), such sensations can manifest during and post-workout for a day or two.

A bit of soreness can be an inventory of what were made of...

A bit of soreness can be an inventory of what we're made of...

I will always disagree with the term no pain, no gain. This is the credo of the 1970s gym ignoramus or, gymnoramous, as I prefer to think of them. How such idiocy wove it’s way into the fitness world is beyond me. Pain, I reckon, is what one feels when a vertebral disk gets compressed, when a meniscus tears, when a bone breaks, or when you drop a weight on your foot – that is pain. Pain can also be a torn muscle, a pinched nerve, or punctured skin – that too is pain. Anything less, as it applies to the human body in exercise, is just sensation – in my opinion. Some I know speak of the “horrible pain” of soreness, of the “wretched pain” of burning, or of the “torturous pain” of aching muscles as a result of their exercise. Those who think in these terms need the ultimate attitude check — and need a dose of real pain to remind them just how valuable that sensation really is.
Perhaps a fitness credo for the new era should be introduced: No sensation, no restoration. 

One response

  1. “No sensation, no restoration.” <- Love it!

    Sensation does have the romance thing going on. 😉

    This blog brought me back to always having to look outside of myself in the moment of intense burning of the muscle. I remember looking up towards the ceiling, eying my shoelaces or grinding my teeth on the inside of my mouth. Anything to avoid the sensation of the burn feeling. For a long time I hated feeling the sensation of a burn. Anything else like actual muscle soreness or what have you was fine with me. It took me a long time to get over the hump. What's interesting is an experienced lifter, even when the weight seems as if it's unbearable to handle, the shakiness of the fibers you can see as each rep is being performed. But pushing through the limits (attitudes) of all the millions of sensations is just…thrillingly seasoned!

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