Pain and soreness do not measure an effective workout. Period.
“No pain, no gain” is thought to be a fundamental principle of exercise. This mantra suggests that unless you experience discomfort or agony during your workout, you’re unlikely to see results. However, this oversimplification is wildly misleading.
This belief is rooted in a misunderstanding of how the body works during exercise and recovery. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is muscle soreness that occurs several hours or up to two days after exercise. DOMS is most prevalent when you are starting a new type of exercise or program but the symptoms are highly variable among athletes of all levels.
Pain is the especially concerning part of this concept. Feeling actual pain during a workout could be an indication of poor form, improper technique or injury risk. Ignoring pain and pushing through it may lead to more harm than good, potentially causing long-term damage that could get in the way of your overall fitness goals.
DOMS is simply a response to unfamiliar or intense movements that challenge your muscles in new ways. Therefore, soreness should not be used as a universal benchmark. As your body adapts to new movements, the soreness will likely diminish over time.
In the pursuit of fitness, it’s acceptable to push and challenge your body but learning to notice the difference between soreness and pain is crucial.
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