The idea that one must push through pain during a workout to gain a benefit is completely false and downright dangerous. If you’re a person who truly believes in a natural lifestyle, why should your fitness program be any different? To truly obtain a benefit from exercise, look to nature as a guide.
Aristotle once said that “[e]xercise should be moderate rather than excessive or insufficient and that it should be undertaken with one’s physical capacity.” These ancient words still hold true today as our society has become obsessed with overly-fatiguing exercise that leaves you injured, excessively sore or completely wiped out of energy for the rest of the day. Even worse, we take classes and follow workout routines performed by individuals who are not suffering from the same chronic pain issues as us and who are usually highly-conditioned fitness professionals working on their bodies day and night. If an office jockey who sits behind a desk for 8-10 hours a day and has chronic low back pain attempts the same workout routine, it won’t be surprising if this new hobby is not sustained or even worse, injury arises.
John Douillard, in his revolutionary book Body, Mind and Sport states that “[e]xercise is a two-edged sword. The proper amount can keep you healthy or even help to cure you; too much can make you sick or even kill you.” In my experience, I’ve found that the appropriate dosage of exercise stress is dependent on the overall stress in your life. If you’re incredibly stressed at work and at home, have a major life event going on and then you throw in heavy resistance training or marathon training, your body will undoubtedly start breaking down. It just does not have the capacity to recover since it’s constantly in a stressed state.
In addition, if you’re suffering from a chronic pain condition, it is imperative to pay attention to which movement or exercise exacerbates or alleviates the pain both during and after the workout session. Every movement, stretch or exercise should have a purpose and a goal. If one of my clients is complaining of chronic low back pain but wants to gain strength, these don’t have to be mutually exclusive. However, each exercise, stretch or soft-tissue protocol I recommend will be toward the goal of correcting any imbalances or weaknesses that are contributing to the chronic low back pain.
Nothing in nature is forced and nothing happens without a purpose. This is the blueprint for exercise. If your current fitness program doesn’t rejuvenate the body, remove stress and alleviate your chronic pain then I suggest you consider reevaluating your routine.