Exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. It offers numerous benefits, from improved physical fitness to enhanced mental well-being. However, it’s not uncommon to experience some level of discomfort or pain during exercise, even during physical therapy programming. In this blog, we’ll explore why experiencing pain during exercise can be acceptable, how to differentiate between good and bad pain, and the importance of not pushing beyond a 4-5/10 on the pain scale.
Understanding Pain During Exercise
Pain during exercise can encompass a wide range of sensations. It’s crucial to distinguish between the various types of discomfort to ensure your safety, well-being and long term quality of life.
Discomfort vs. Pain: When it comes to exercise, experiencing discomfort is relatively normal. It can be attributed to muscle fatigue, increased heart rate, or pushing your physical limits. This discomfort can be seen as a sign of progress and should not be a cause for concern.
Good Pain vs. Bad Pain: Pain can be categorized into two main types: good pain and bad pain. Good pain is a manageable level of discomfort that results from the body adapting to the physical stress of exercise. It’s a sign that your muscles are working and can include the “burn” you feel during resistance training or the heavy breathing during a challenging run. In contrast, bad pain is sharp, intense, and often accompanied by a sense of injury. It should not be ignored and may require medical attention.
The 0-10 Pain Scale
The 0-10 pain scale is a helpful tool for assessing pain during exercise. Here’s a brief overview:
0: No pain at all.
1-3: Mild discomfort, often described as a dull ache or tightness.
4-5: Moderate discomfort, manageable, and not typically a cause for concern.
6-7: Moderate to severe pain that may require attention.
8-9: Severe pain that needs immediate attention.
10: Excruciating pain, typically requiring hospitalization.
Why a 4-5/10 Pain Level Is Okay
Experiencing a 4-5/10 pain level during exercise is generally acceptable and can even be beneficial in some cases. Here are a few reasons why:
Building Strength and Endurance: To improve fitness and performance, the body must be challenged. A moderate level of discomfort (4-5/10) is often necessary to stimulate muscle growth and cardiovascular adaptations.
Pushing Your Limits: Progress in exercise is achieved by pushing boundaries. Going beyond your comfort zone and feeling a 4-5/10 level of discomfort is a sign that you’re working towards your goals.
Mental Toughness: Overcoming moderate discomfort during exercise can help you develop mental resilience and discipline. These qualities can be transferred to other aspects of your life.
Pain as Feedback: A 4-5/10 level of pain can serve as feedback. It helps you understand your body’s limits and adapt your training regimen accordingly. It’s a cue to respect your body’s signals and make necessary adjustments to avoid injury.
Pain during exercise is a common experience, and it’s important to differentiate between discomfort and harmful pain. A 4-5/10 level of pain is generally acceptable and can even be beneficial in terms of building strength, pushing your limits, and healing injury with guidance from a Physical Therapist. It is crucial to listen to your body, avoid bad pain, and make adjustments to your exercise routine when necessary. Remember that pain during exercise is a part of the journey, but it should never be excessive or lead to injury. Always prioritize your safety and well-being, and consider connecting with a qualified practitioner to ensure you are optimizing your movements.
Physical Therapy That Cares
Meet Dr. Arron, our expert Physical Therapist at Quality Of Life Integrative Health. With a proven track record of assisting hundreds in conquering persistent pain and injuries, he is dedicated to listening, educating, and empowering you to experience your best health. Discover a path to your optimal health as he equips you with the tools to regain the joy of doing the things you love.
Book a free intro call today!