The pain of becoming healthier

Published in Pain Center, For the Health of It Author: Doug Sticha

Physical Therapist
CentraCare Neurosciences Pain Center

Whenever you commit to a new exercise routine, you should congratulate yourself for working to make an improvement in your health. But when should you "push through the pain" and when should you listen to your body?

Not all pain is bad pain, often pain can and should be expected. When setting exercise and fitness goals, be realistic and stage your goals. Don’t expect your body to perform in a manner it does not have the physical ability to do. It may be unrealistic to train for a half marathon before achieving small attainable goals to allow your body to reach a loftier goal.

Gym memberships provide an excellent venue for exercise as they often provide multiple options for strengthening and cardiovascular exercise. Choose the proper equipment to use your body in a manner that is not causing harm or injury. Cross training on different cardio machines can be useful to use muscles in different ways, this can be combined with targeted strengthening to advance time on a treadmill if your goal is to progress running distance.

Delayed onset muscle soreness is expected pain when exercising and targeting muscle groups and can last a few days after exercise. If your goal is to target your core and execute an exercise routine and awake the next day with neck pain, you did not perform the exercise correctly or chose an exercise which was too difficult. If you experience pain such as shin splints when on a treadmill, don’t use elevation as a training parameter or choose a different cardio option while your muscles are becoming conditioned.

Exercising on a regular basis is healthy. It often releases chemicals we all have in the "medicine cabinet in our brain" — otherwise known as the "runners high." Enjoy and embrace your good pain from exercise. You have earned it.