Can pain sometimes lead to gain? Many people jumped into this New Year exercising, by either starting or getting back into a routine. I find that I am frequently asked various versions of the same question. When exercisers begin to experience any sort of pain, they ask, “Do I need to stop working out?” An ache or pain, out of the ordinary, causes the once exuberant exerciser to remain in bed the next day, and possibly give up on working out all together. I’ve come across this issue with clients throughout the years.
The pain that one generally experiences, after a workout, is not typically debilitating. One has to learn the difference between pain and injury. An injury is marked by a very definitive sharp pain to a certain part of the body, which prohibits the body from doing what it normally does. An injury will be revealed in the form of swelling. The swelling is the body’s way of protecting itself from further injury. If one finds the need to seek counseling from a doctor, then an injury may possibly have been suffered.
As the workouts become consistent, the body becomes stronger and the body is able to push harder, longer and faster. Keep in mind, that increases to the workout should be gradual. When the workout is increased too rapidly, the body is more susceptible to small muscle fiber tears. These tears produce something called lactic acid. Lactic acid sends a signal to the muscle to repair itself to be stronger, bigger and better.
In this instance, pain may be considered a positive. Trainers refer to D.O.M.S. – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. DOMS refers to completing a workout; working out normally; and experiencing some amount of soreness as the day goes on. This soreness is fine, and indicates that the body is undergoing a change.
However, a few pointers will help you recover, and make it easier to get up that next morning and continue on the fitness journey:
Hydrate – Make sure the body is hydrated. Be consistent with water intake. The thinner the blood, and the better the lactic acid will move through and out of the body. Additionally, water causes a more efficient movement of nutrients through the body to help repair the tissue…Drink water, not Kool Aid, not Gatorade, but, clean, fresh, water!
Warm up – Prior to exercising the next day, warm up with a 5 to 10 minute walk, and a static stretch, especially the areas that experienced the soreness. A very intense stretch is not necessary, because as the workout continues, the body begins to feel better as it responds to the warm up. Don’t just jump back into a workout cold.
Cold/Hot Shower – The final point (and my clients look at me crazy when I tell them this) is after an intense workout, go home and get in the shower and for the first two minutes of the shower, run the water as cold as possible. Then the next two minutes return the temperature to a standard heat. Reduce the water again to two minutes of cold, then resume the normal temperature. This cold-hot shower will coagulate all the bleeding in the muscle fibers, which causes swelling. The heat then helps move that coagulated blood out. Repeat, then finish the normal shower. This process will significantly reduce, if not prevent soreness and that will make the next day’s workout more bearable.
By overcoming this first hurdle in the path to fitness, progress can be made. Once the mind is convinced that minor aches and pains are not a deterrent, the road ahead will expand. Yes, pain can sometimes lead to gain. Listen to the body, and the cues being provided and benefits will be available for the taking.
Peace and be more!
Erich Nall is the Owner and Founder of Ultimate Transformations Training ( in Los Angeles, California. He has coached and trained many successful professional athletes, actors, models and others in the entertainment industry for the past 18 years. The certified trainer, nutritionist, motivational speaker, and dedicated life coach is a regular guest and commentator on KJLH 102.3 FM’s the “Front Page with Dominique DiPrima” and writer for Volleyball Magazine (