“There are two types of pain, one that hurts you and the other that changes you.”
The mechanism that exists to get the body stronger is very unusual. In simplest terms, to get in better shape, you must exert the body so much that it becomes stressed enough to produce microtears in the muscle. The adaptation to those microtears is what builds stronger muscles. Exercise scientist have labeled this response “super-compensation.” In this instance, this pain to the body has a productive value. It changes the shape of the body for the good.
On the other hand, if a client is running 100m repeats and after the third set complains that they may have hurt their hamstring I immediately have them stop what they are doing and have them describe the event. “I was in the middle of the sprint when I felt my hamstring pop,” he said. A red flag goes up in my head; this individual has hurt/injured their hamstring. If they continue on it will only make matters worse.
For our newest members, the concept of pain is very foreign to them. As trainers, it is essential that we teach them the difference. For example, after a tough training session the day before, a client may walk into the gym and describe their legs as “hurting.” I immediately respond, “do you mean sore?” Most often than not, they confuse hurt with being sore. I’m okay with soreness, if not happy about it. This hurt will eventually lead to a positive change in body composition.
For one type of athlete, hurt provides a mechanism to become stronger while the other only causes physical pain beyond immediate repair.
The same is true about life situations. There is pain that makes us stronger, and there’s pain that causes harm. The art and science of pain is knowing the difference.
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