It never ceases to amaze me how many diet and home fitness commercials appear right after New Years. Evidence that much of the world has decided that getting fit is their goal for 2009. I myself am guilty of participating in the 2009 January health crackdown with my wedding only six weeks away. I don’t plan on purchasing any new gadgets though. Regardless, health myths almost always accompany folks seeking a healthier lifestyle. Today’s health myth: if you don’t feel the pain of your workout, you’re not gaining any health benefits.
Todd Schlifstein, DO, a clinical instructor at New York University Medical Center’s Rusk Institute, believes that of all fitness rumors ever created, the “no pain-no gain” myth has the most potential to cause harm to individuals. When starting a new exercise routine (or continuing a current one), people should expect some soreness a day or two after working out. However, that’s very different from feeling pain while working out.
“A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury,” Dr. Schlifstein said in an interview with WebMD. As for “working through the pain,” experts don’t advise it. They say that if it hurts, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn’t go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, Schlifstein says, see a doctor.
However, Dr. Schlifstein doesn’t answer whether you should work through the inevitable soreness on day two. That’s one I struggle with. Is it best to work through the pain the next time you work out? I’ve always heard the answer is “yes” to this–that you need to keep your muscles working to avoid additional soreness. I don’t have any scientific resources for this one though. Feel free to share yours!
In the meantime, check out our Playnormous health game that’s all about aerobic activity: Bubble Trouble. Pain needed for an effective workout…busted!