“No pain, no gain.” How frequently have you heard these words when you’ve stopped in the middle of running or your cardio routine due to muscle pain? In fact, some trainers and fellow athletes have been trying to make you embrace pain as proof that you “are getting there” with your fitness and performance level.
All these misconceptions are not only wrong – they can be dangerous to your health if you strive to ignore pain and not deal with it properly. Today, our aim is to debunk some of the most common myths which you may have read or heard in relation to pain management.
We don’t want to make you crash the doctor’s door after each jolt of pain – but we want to you to evaluate the pain you feel correctly and appreciate when you should see a doctor, despite what your trainer or friends say.
Without further ado, here we go:
1. Stop Thinking About Pain and It Goes Away
It does not work like this. It is not like stopping to think about someone and you stop missing them (even this one does not really work). Pain is the alarm signal given by your nerves that something is wrong with a part of your body. This is why you should not ignore it or try to stop thinking about it. If it is continuous and impeding your walking or running, you should think very seriously about going to the doctor.
In fact, not thinking about the pain can lead to aggravating your initial injury. Instead of a short term and simple treatment, you may have to undergo surgery and spend a lot of time away from the running track.
2. Pain Medication Will Get You Addicted
It is true that certain drugs (especially those from the opioid class) cause addiction. However, your doctor will certainly not recommend such medication to you. If you are a professional athlete, the doctor will also be careful not to give you something which will cause you to test positive during random drug tests.
Even if you have to get strong medication for severe pain, such as codeine, your doctor will only give it to you for a limited amount of time, and then replace it with other drugs as your pain decreases until you will be able to walk without taking any kind of pain medication.
3. Pain Is a Sign that Your Training Works
Building muscle strength and resistance is not an observable, painful experience. It is not like turning into the Incredible Hulk within minutes. The fact that you are experiencing pain is not the sign that your muscles are building up and you will become stronger, it means that they are hurt.
Sometimes you do experience a dead leg or muscle fever, but this is only the response of your body to a sudden increase in the duration and intensity of your training, and it goes away in a day or two. If you experience continuous pain, something is wrong and you should see a doctor.
4. Only Weak People Go to the Doctor
The macho attitude in the professional sports world has been around for decades. Athletes are seen as superhumans, with special abilities to withstand pain and recover from injuries in no time. The truth is that we are all human and we can get hurt, no matter how well trained we are, and that it is not a sign of weakness if you go see a doctor.
In fact, going to the doctor is the responsible thing to do if you want to recover from your injury and get back on the running track as soon as possible. Again, do not give in to peer pressure and do what you think is right for you.
5. Your Attitude Influences Your Pain Level
If we could simply will the pain away, the world will be a better place for all of us. But we cannot do that, no matter how we try. The pain is there because a muscle is over-stretched, inflamed, or even torn. The pain is like a red beacon drawing attention to the problem. You cannot cure a hurt muscle with a positive, optimistic attitude. If that worked, doctors and physical therapists would not exist.
In conclusion, pain is not something that makes you less of a person and athlete. You should not ignore it or be ashamed of going to the doctor. Your health and ability to be a top level performer are more important than your peers’ opinion of you. Forget about these myths related to pain, and make the healthy choice for your wellbeing.