Myth: No Pain, No Gain

One of the most recognizable slogans on Earth has a lot to answer for when discussing pain and injury.

"No Pain, No Gain" was originally intended as a motivational slogan for exercise. Yet somewhere along the line it began to encompass pain and injury - to our detriment.

So ingrained has this thinking become that we often now see pain as a mere hurdle to overcome rather than an authority to respect.

And this can leave us open to unnecessary injury and dysfunction.

By definition any legitimate pain should be a barrier to performance and activity. It's primal role is to protect us and our tissue from current and future harm.

So the key to abiding by this slogan relates more to the context you find yourself in and what you’re actually feeling at the time.

Pain vs Suffering

There is a big difference between pain (and dysfunction) and suffering.

When exercising it’s ok to suffer. In fact we need to if we want to improve. Pushing your physical boundaries plays an important role in optimal growth.

Perhaps this is semantics, but this shouldn’t be considered “pain”.

If it is, we blur the lines of what’s acceptable when pushing yourself.

When exercising, any feelings of aggressive tightness, sharp pain or sudden loss of power and strength must be respected. These symptoms represent the types of sensations associated with musculoskeletal dysfunction. The sharp pain in particular should NOT be pushed through. You need to ask yourself whether completing the task in the short-term is worth potentially not being able to do the task again for a period of time afterwards.

If your workout is hard, you feel uncomfortable, fatigued or are mentally struggling, by all means keep pushing - it's a pillar of being a good athlete.

But if your body starts to send out some intense red flags, seriously consider pulling the pin.

So with this being said, perhaps the “No Pain, No Gain” slogan needs an asterisk. By all means push yourself to improve, but pay attention to what your body is telling you. Remember that under little-to-no circumstances is pain OK. It's not normal and is a sign that something is awry. Respect it, work on fixing the issue and go again soon after.

Ultimately the slogan is a brilliant example of marketing that works. It’s hard to see how Nike could have achieved the same success with more qualified slogans like "No Discomfort, No Gain" or "No Suffer, No Success". But here we are nonetheless.

If you are experiencing pain with movement, consider giving us a call on (949) 443-5442.