Way back in the 80’s trainers may have said “no pain, no gain”. We know what they meant by that statement. That you had to push yourself past your comfort zone in order to affect change in the body. But ‘pain’ is not the goal. General discomfort is ok, but pain is a tad beyond what they meant. Discomfort is feeling heavy, hot, sweaty, muscle burn, moments of heavy breathing, etc. I personally enjoy these feelings; they are not pleasant nor feel good by any stretch of the imagination, but I love the ‘discomfort’ of a workout because I know it’s making me stronger, fitter, leaner and heathier.
You need to find that line between pain and discomfort. Discomfort from effort will affect changes in the body. Whereas pain will hinder the effort and ultimately stop progression towards your goal. For example: you are running and your body feels heavy and awkward and your muscles are complaining…that is discomfort. You can adjust your stride or give yourself time to adjust to your rhythm to find your groove. But if your right knee starts to experience a shooting pain with each step, then you need to slow to a walk and listen to your body. There could be many reasons for that pain. Most people know exactly what it is and why it hurts. If you are unsure, you need to consider stretching, more involved warms ups or even visiting a sports medicine specialist to determine cause.
To reach your goals, you do need to push yourself. You need to work hard enough to make a difference in your body if difference is your goal. Discomfort is part of that process. So exercising won’t always be pleasant, but there should not be pain. So maybe the new saying should be “get comfortable being uncomfortable”.