By Blake and Gwen Beckcom | Fitness
We all well know the adage; “no pain, no gain.” It is true, that staying fit requires discipline and workouts that push our limits, which in reality, IS what’s required to get our body to adapt.
Getting gains requires some level of pain acceptance to move the needle … period.
No pain, no gain is about “owning it,” embracing the burn, pushing through fatigue, putting in the extra — be it reps or distance. It is a mantra for the “push” needed to make gains.
As we age, though, we tend to get associative pain with those gains we may not have been looking for, which last beyond the workout itself. Finding effective ways to work safely, within our ability and within our pain tolerance levels, continuing to train, working around pain areas, is key to sticking to it to not give back hard fought gains.
Oftentimes, we use ANY pain as an excuse to not workout, when working around the pain to help it heal, is better and more effective, than not working out at all. Look, if your upper body has some sort of trauma; your lower body is still fine. If your lower body is compromised, you can do everything in a workout seated or lying down for that matter. So, don’t let an occasional bump or bruise derail your gains. Safety is important and soreness is the body’s first alarm system, while pain itself takes on a differing potentiality. A dull ache is different than a shooting pain, and even the sharp shooters have workarounds.
Let’s take your grip, for instance, as a workaround. Open your palm, and let’s start with the pinky first. Draw the little finger inward until the top of the little finger touches your palm at about mid-palm. Now do it again, but watch your forearm and which muscles are affected in that movement. Now do that with each successive finger all the way to the index finger paying close attention to how the forearm reacts.
What I have found is that varying your grip intensity in terms of which finger(s) are really clamping down, changes the stressor in my forearm up to, and through my elbow. I had a nice nasty case of tendonitis and with a combination of therapy modality, BUT most importantly, how I gripped bars, ropes, bands, benches etc in my workouts, I was able to adjust my grip intensity by finger, and move the tension off of the area in the elbow extracting the most pain and not miss a workout … plus totally recover from the tendinitis.
Now, stand up and look down at your feet. North and south feet, not internally nor externally rotated, was how we were made structurally, in the best case. If your feet splay in your normal stance; that is, rotate from say, noon to 1 o’clock right side, or say, noon to 11 o’clock, left side, which typically is a sign of imbalances in your thigh musculature, which generally is the root cause of the rotation of our feet off of noon. Consequently, that rotation puts more pressure on the inner side your knee.
A splayed foot more easily pronates; i.e., arch/ankle inward collapse and pronator’s usually have inward knee collapse, which puts even more pressure on the inner part of the knee. If you have knee pain, look at your feet. Perhaps changing their alignment when you get out of a chair or walk up stairs will “work-around” your pain. Now my knees don’t collapse, nor do I have pronating feet, but I do have years of wear and tear on my knees, especially my dominant side, which is right. What I have found is that by having a slight internal rotation of my right foot during ANY exercise related to my legs, that the pressure point in my knee migrates to outer, vs. inner, and PRESTO … I am golden. Push through the heel, even better, as that translates more to hams and glutes and less to knees and quads. See? Another work-around in the multiple, this time.
Be it a foot, a knee, or a hand — anywhere really for that matter — regardless of the pain, there are ways to work around most every bit of skeletal/ muscular pain that comes your way as you age. The point is to stay in the game. “My shoulder hurts” is not cause to quit. Gravity does not quit when you do, and when you do, then the muscle that supports the shoulder joint atrophies, but gravity just keeps on pulling. You want less pain? Find and use work-arounds and keep showing up. Once you stop showing up, the body gives up, and the pain intensifies. Sweat is the body’s way of giving you applause for staying in the game regardless of the pain. Hear the roar? Oh, by the way, my right shoulder hurts too. Ain’t stopping me … should NOT stop you either.
—Blake and Gwen Beckcom run Fitness Together Mission Hills. Contact them at fitnesstogether.com/missionhills.