January 21, 2018

No Pain, No Gain

She strained her shoulder with that workoutShould I hurt after exercise?

Why do I have soreness in my muscles?

What does No Pain No Gain really mean?


We’ve all heard the saying, “No pain No gain”. The question is: myth or fact?

To know the true answer, let’s take a look at what is happening from the inside!

Post-exercise muscle soreness is referred to as “DOMS”, delayed onset muscle soreness. DOMS is a feeling of increased stiffness and/or pain following physical activities. So why does this happen and is this benefiting me?

During physical activity, your muscles contract concentrically (shortening) and eccentrically (lengthening). Imagine performing a bicep curl. When you eccentrically stress your bicep with elbow extension, what is allowing your arm to stop this motion against gravity? Your muscles are made up little muscle fibers that glide in and out of each other during muscle contractions. An eccentric muscle contraction requires “braking” in order to stop your arm movement against gravity. This in turn, causes small micro trauma to the muscle. During the healing process, nutrients are used in your body to repair the damaged tissue which results in muscle gains.

What’s important is knowing when to rest! A safe rule to follow is, allow each muscle group 4-5 days to recover before training it again. This gives your body enough time to repair the damage. You will soon notice that over time, your body will start to adapt to your workouts and the DOMS will become less severe (if felt at all). That’s why it is important to progressively overload your muscles without pushing them too hard. A nice consistent challenge will allow muscle growth without injury.

So yes, pain is a common side-effect of exercise. From athletes to weekend warriors to a patient initiating physical therapy, you will all experience this. What’s important is listening to your body and knowing when rest is appropriate. Nobody knows your body better than YOU!

~Lindsey Bolen, BS, PTA

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