Let Pain Be Your Guide

Every now and then one of my clients will say some derivative of the following: "it hurts when I do X....is that OK?"  

My answer?  Well, let's not do that anymore.

When the individual picks themselves off the ground after getting bowled over by my deep wisdom (or, lack thereof), they usually go on to ask if not doing X is going to hurt their progress.  The answer? Absolutely not! "No pain, no gain" is not just silly, it's moronic.

Does it hurt me to look at Justin Bieber?  Why yes, yes it does.

Does it hurt me to look at Justin Bieber?  Why yes, yes it does.

If you have a jacked up shoulder, knee, hip, etc. then just stay away from anything that causes pain.  There are hundreds of exercises out there, and none of them are so critical that you need to do them at any costs. 

Perhaps the best explanation of this whole point came from Mike Boyle, who is famous for coining the phrase "does it hurt?" In this famous article, he explains that exercise should not cause pain.  If it does?  Stop.  If it doesn't?  Well forge ahead, my friend.  It seems like common sense, but that's something we tend to lose when we want to train hard.

One such example came just a few weeks ago, as I was creepily peering over my girlfriend's shoulder and saw the following Facebook status:

"Icing my knee after hitting a new back squat PR in Crossfit today.  It hurts a bit but I'm pretty glad I went for it." 

It's funny, but sometimes I think we forget that what we're training for isn't to be better at exercise, it's to be stronger in every day life (or to look better nekkid).   Training is NOT a sport in itself (sorry, CrossFit) and treating it as such is a recipe for injury.  You only have one body, yet we often treat it like it's disposable.  Train around your pain and live to see another day.

Ask yourself one simple question: does it hurt? There is no middle ground.