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  • Oliver Cunningham

No Pain, No Gain?


We’ve all heard the classic phrase that’s been exchanged between gym bros for ages.


“No pain, no gain”.


Over time, the phrase has resulted in an epidemic of gym-goers bragging about training so hard that they can’t walk the next day or can hardly lift their arms. This leads people to believe that in order to make progress in the gym, they have to dance the line between injured and healthy. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.


The truth is...


No pain equals no pain!


If you’re able to avoid injury and overtraining, you’ll be able to work out for longer and see better results over more time. While some injuries are out of our control (i.e dropping a dumbbell on your toe), the most common gym goer injuries are completely avoidable. In fact, most people who get hurt in the gym had a pretty good idea that what they were doing was going to in fact cause pain.


The most common acute injuries I deal with are lower back pain, shoulder pain, and knee pain. Sometimes there isn’t an easy explanation that leads to the cause of pain, but more often than not I hear things like “I lifted too heavy” or “I know my shoulder is bad but I did it anyway” or “I saw someone do this cool thing online and I wanted to try it”.


In the medical world, most of these exercises would be coined as “contraindicated”, which means there’s a reason to avoid performing them. Most exercises are fairly simple in nature, so if you’re thinking of attempting a move that feels out of your comfort zone, it’s probably best to listen to your body and not attempt the exercise. That doesn’t mean you should never test your limits, it just means if you are going to do so, do it safely.


The only time no pain, no gain does apply, when it’s used in the context of pushing yourself past your comfort zone. Our bodies are pretty good at telling us to quit too early, especially if we aren’t used to pushing ourselves very often. A good rule you can use is that if you’re able to continue performing the exercise with proper form (even if it’s very difficult), you’ve got the green light to keep pushing. Once form starts to break down, that’s where enter the yellow light zone and are at more risk to get hurt.


Train hard, but train safely!

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