Whether people prefer running, bicycling, using an elliptical machine, swimming, or even going to aerobics classes, it isn’t unusual for them to feel some pain during their workouts. Although some experts say that exercise should never be painful, there are some differences between “good” pain and potentially dangerous pain. Learning the difference can help you embrace the pain and push through your workout.
Understand that Pain Isn’t Always a Problem
Many people cannot embrace the pain that comes along with cardio workouts because they believe that any amount of pain signals a problem. However, when it comes to the burning sensation you feel in your muscles, this is actually a good type of pain. It indicates that you’re stressing your muscles, which will keep them strong. On the other hand, if you experience sharp pains in very localized parts of your body, it could indicate anything from a stress fracture to a pulled hamstring. Learning the difference is important as it allows you to understand when you can keep pushing and when you should stop.
Change the Way You Think
Pain is one of your body’s defense mechanisms, and in some cases, it can mean that there’s something wrong. This is why you tend to associate pain with negativity, which can affect your workout and the results you hope to achieve. However, not all pain is bad. When you eat spicy food, you experience pain – but this pain is tolerable and even enjoyable. The same can be said for the pain you experience during a cardio workout. “Feeling the burn” isn’t a negative thing at all; it’s positive because it’s proof that your workout is doing its job. If you truly want to embrace the pain, you need to change the way you think about it.
Distract Your Mind
The more you think about the pain you’re experiencing, the more intense it becomes. If you want to learn how to embrace the pain, you’ll need to find a way to distract yourself. The pain will still exist, but because you’re focused on something other than the aching or burning in your muscles, it isn’t as likely to get you down. Some great ideas include listening to your favorite music while you run, listening to an audiobook while you ride a stationary bicycle at the gym, watching television while using the rowing machine, or even inviting a friend over to keep you company while you do your aerobic workouts.
Choose a Goal
Finally, when you find yourself wondering if you can continue for that last lap around the track or another 15 minutes on the elliptical, take some time to think about your end goal. Do you want to lose five pounds? Are you focused on heart health? Do you just want to get in better shape? Choose your goal and think about it when you start to experience pain, and you’ll soon find that you have plenty of motivation to keep pushing forward.
The old adage “no pain, no gain” certainly holds true in many situations, including cardio workouts. You can embrace the pain when you learn to understand which types of pain are normal, when you learn to associate pain with something positive, and when you can distract yourself from the pain to meet the goals you’ve chosen for yourself.