Today I want to talk about pain. Pain is something that we fear and overall dislike, comes in many forms and it's part of life.
It's a strong and effective way the body has to communicate what's happening. It can be emotional ( neuropathic) or physical (somatic, visceral), both can be as bad, there is not one better than the other one. Some pain we can't control in our life (losing someone we love, getting hurt or sick) some we can (not repeating what we learned to be a cause of pain, mistakes). The pain you can't control, there is nothing to do about it, it can always happen, there is no escape, just don't look for it: driving with no seatbelt, doing drugs, not taking care of your health etc. The pain you have control on, like in training for example, that one is worth to analyze, to maximize good, constructive pain and minimize the plain harmful one.
I'll talk about what I feel pain can represent in different occasions with training, what you can learn from it and how to avoid the destructive one, while keeping just the pain you need to get better, which eventually become an "acquired pain", more manageable and less uncomfortable with time (you get used to it = your body adapts).
Pain as mistake:
This is the pain of doing something wrong as: not warming up enough, straining a muscle/ causing injury, not healing, overtraining, not resting, keeping the body in "inflammation mode", doing an exercise too intensely etc. Those are mistakes you learn not to do, even though sometimes you can accidentally repeat them. With experience you learn what works best for you and what doesn't, it's a trail and error.
Pain as warning:
When you feel the beginning of an injury, a burning sensation in your hamstrings for example, a starting point of something bigger: these are signs not to underestimate. Modify training right away, prevent worsening of "baby pain", let that pain go away or lessen before you retrain that area, restart gentle and listen to your body's messages.
Pain as fear:
Unknown pain generates fear. When your body doesn't recognize something, fear (and muscle contraction in defense) kicks in. It's a natural response. Train your mind to recognize fear, relax the muscles and use slow movements (never rush) if learning a new skill, a new exercise develops fear. BREATHE, it calms you down.
Pain as progress:
To get better, it's painful, but a good type of painful. Let me explain: tiredness, effort, discomfort, fatigue, gradual but steady changes hurt, but they're necessary to improve. That's the pain of micro-tears in a muscle getting stronger, your heart getting better at pumping blood more efficiently, your ligaments/muscles registering new lengths reached through stretching etc. As long as your training is gradual (you don't overdo it one day, then do nothing for two weeks etc.) pain as progress gives results.
Pain as doubt:
Not believing in yourself. Not feeling to be able of doing something. Feeling pain while believing and seeing your achievements getting closer is one thing, feeling pain while doubting what you're doing and why you're doing it is another. If your mind is OFF, the pain is bigger and you don't justify it, you question why you have to go through it, most likely won't keep up with what's causing you to feel this way. You need motivation and self esteem to transform pain as doubt in pain as progress.
Pain as soreness:
This one is the "happy pain", coming from workouts' DOMS (the muscle stiffness felt after training, a mechanism the body uses to adapt to the stress of microtrauma which happens every time you do eccentric- lengthening movements under gravity force or weights). To me is happy pain because I feel my body has worked hard and that means successful sessions, too much soreness though can be a problem if your body doesn't adapt and recover in between workouts.