Everybody Hurts

  "Are you hurt? Or are you injured?" That was the question asked of a speaker I recently heard by his college football coach. The difference being, can you keep going, does it just hurt, or do you need to get off the field and get help?

When teaching Pilates I am often informed by my students if something hurts. I need to know, like that football coach, is it pain like a muscle is working, or does it hurt like something is not right.

We want to differentiate between good "pain" and bad pain. Good pain is the feeling that the targeted muscles are working. They're either being challenged in strength, length or endurance. Bad pain is that feeling that alignment is off, that joints are being compressed, that a sore spot that may be inflamed is being compromised. This pain means STOP.

Being healthy, active and strong does not exempt anyone from injury.  Look at athletes, whether amateur or professionals, nobody trains harder than these people. Yet despite their strength, athletes get hurt. More so than your Average Joe. And when they do get hurt, they ask themselves if it's worth continuing. That all depends on what's at stake. Is it a gold medal? The Stanley Cup? A championship ring?

Chances are most of you reading this do not fall into this category. What's at stake for you? Unless you're a professional model or actor who gets paid to look a certain way, it's most likely your ego. Is that worth you risking your wellbeing for? My answer would be no.

Ignoring an injury or bad pain while working out can rob you of your ability to move as you have been over time. You will not be forever young. And then what? Is that the future you envision for yourself? Train your body lovingly, mindfully, so that in your old age you can continue to enjoy mobility without restriction.

"Quit your belly aching" I may joke with clients when they grasp their stomachs in surprise 7 minutes into their mat work. I'm not suggesting we shy away from all pain. A good burn can produce great results and leave us feeling like we got a great workout. However do listen to your body and know the difference.

When I injured my left knee during a skiing accident several years ago, I had to stop all activity while I healed. Physiotherapy done daily saw me through that period. When I was cleared to start exercising I gradually restored range of motion and strength. I continue to assess how I am feeling. When I'm well aligned I can kick my own ass during a good workout. But when something's feeling off, I take it easier and work on restoring balance.

Good "pain" leads to feeling invigorated, energized, alive! Bad pain just hurts.

So, next time you're working out, and you feel some pain, ask yourself, "Does it just hurt, or am I injured?". If you're injured, get off the field and come back to me when you're good to keep going.