No pain, no gain…….really?

I used to be the person who believed in the ‘no pain, no gain’ concept for exercise until I realised there is a better way.

I attended Pilates classes long before I trained to coach clients; and if I was struggling with an injury or back pain, I would find it difficult to admit to the coach OR myself that certain types of movement might aggravate the problem and cause me further pain.

I think the philosophy I had adopted stemmed from the fast paced, high impact, aerobics classes and videos of the 80s; which were often a ‘one size fits all’ approach, without much consideration of ability, level of fitness or existing movement restrictions.  The term ‘no pain, no gain’ was embraced by the fitness world at that time.

I recall attending a class when I was struggling with a muscular injury, and completely ignoring the signals my body was sending me, continuing to push through pain.  The Pilates coach must have seen the look on my face and the lack of proper form because she quietly approached me and asked if the exercise was hurting me.  On confirming that it was, she offered me an alternative and explained that my body would temporarily prefer an easier option.

As soon as I took her advice it felt so obvious that it was the right thing to do.  I couldn’t work out why I hadn’t mentioned the problem to her before.  I didn’t have to sit out for the exercise, but I was no longer working in a way that hurt.

I felt so relieved that there was another way, and within a couple of weeks my body had recovered, and the pain was gone so I was able to resume the original exercise without modification.

I use this same approach in my classes today and ask clients to move within their ‘pain free’ range to nourish and support their bodies rather than stress their bodies.

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