Too many people believe that they are being tough and hardcore by pushing through any pain that comes their way.
While they are right in some ways, what they are actually doing is damaging their bodies and reducing their health in the long run. Most people that workout at high intensity would like to stay healthy throughout their lives, but many times when we are young we go to such extremes that we sacrifice health for pride. When you have an injury or pain, do not push through it because this could cause long-term damage. You do not have to let it stop you from working out, but you will need to work around it.
Does this mean that you should not work out hard or push your limits?
No. Rather, you should be smart about it and listen to your body. If you are training for marathons and your ankle starts to hurt you, stop running for that day. If you were just starting your workout then go onto something else for the day. The following day, test out your ankle with a light run. If your ankle still hurts then you need to probably give you ankle some time to heal since at that point you may have strained or sprained it. You can still be training hard you are just avoiding that ankle. Do some weight training that does not require you to put weight on your ankle, see if a bike feels okay, if not then do some rowing. If you decide to simply push through that ankle pain, you may be out of the race far longer than just a week.
There are plenty of intense exercises and sports out there that are great fun, and they are fine for your body; but, you need to pay attention to when it is time for a break.
Know the Difference. There is a difference between join pain, muscle pain, muscle soreness, and muscle fatigue.
- Burning in the muscles- Lactic acid is what your muscles are using for fuel during your workout. The burning in your muscles comes from the hydrogen ion, which is the acid by product in lactic acid. This builds up in your muscles while you workout. The burning is completely normal and should not be a barrier for you, yet you may need to rest for periods of time.
- Muscle soreness- This is normal following exercise. It usually happens later that day or the following day, and can last 2-3 days. This happens from micro tears and inflammation in the muscles following your workout. This sounds bad, but really this is normal. Muscle builds and tones up this way, tearing itself to build it back up again.
- Muscle fatigue- Muscle fatigue usually happens while you are working out, and your body starts to get tired from the workout. This is very normal and many people push very far through this without many issues. The one thing to keep in mind when dealing with muscle fatigue is that if you get too fatigued, you can hurt yourself through improper form and dropping weights. Keep an eye on how tired your muscles are getting and use a spotter to make sure you do not lose control, especially with the weights.
- Muscle pain- Muscle pain will be more of a feeling that you pulled or tore something. There will be a pain in the muscle. This should not be ignored. There is a chance that if you stop as soon as you feel the pain you will be up and running again very soon. However, if you push through instead, you will be dealing with something that could take a very long time to heal. As a result, you will be kept out of your chosen sport for quite a while. You can strain something during a workout and not feel it until the inflammation kicks in later, so be careful if you are having a delayed soreness that it is indeed just a soreness and not actually pain.
- Joint, tendon, and ligament pain- When you get a pain that originates in the joint area you need to pay attention to it. This can be a slew of things that range from minor to severe injury. There is a lot going on in these areas and damage can take a long time to fix. You may wind up having a sharp pain (acute) or a consistent dull pain (chronic). Either way, this is something you want to get looked at. Keep in mind that there are times that an ankle or wrist or shoulder can have a pain, and it is only there for a moment or a day then goes away never to return again. These are not a big deal, but you should still give that joint a break for the day. When in doubt, get it checked out.
Be mindful that some days your body will be more tired than others, and that it needs a break. If this is the case and you are someone who cannot handle the idea of not working out, then go for a walk. Do a stretching routine, some light weights, or some balance work. These things will help you progress in your health goals, but will be much lighter to give your body a break from the hard core workouts. If you can, just take the full day to let your body rest.
Pushing yourself to see what you are made of is a great thing, but make sure you are doing it in a way that promotes your health not hinders is.