When is exercising non-supportive of your health? When you have to hobble and or cringe in order to adapt to the pain your body is radiating through your nerves. Every little ache warrants some attention because every little ache is a personal message your body is sending to you. Maybe you do not understand these messages and maybe you have learned to filter them out and away to where they cannot be a further burden, but is this safe?
Depending on your level of fitness and your idea of what exercise is, your aches are going to vary greatly. First time exercisers or anyone living a sedentary lifestyle are going to have aches that are mostly soreness due to a re-oiling of the machinery. This is normal and very much expected. Everyone gets this soreness when they drift away from exercising, even if it is as little as a week. In time though, your body becomes a fine tuned machine sufficiently prepared for the workload of exercise. Minor soreness may accompany your workouts, but nothing worthy of a cringe.
If you are in the category of an extreme or hardcore exerciser (bodybuilders), you will most likely have a steady stream of non-sore related aches. Whether it is a tweaked back from dead lifting, a stiff neck from squatting, or even a set of beat up knees or ankles from excessive marathoning on the bike or your feet, each ache necessitates a required response from you.
An extra mile, an extra rep, or even just a few more minutes, are never the responses your body requires. Many will filter and then the many will falter. Running through, lifting through, and adding a few more minutes can be disastrous in many occasions. Sometimes you are able to exercise through the pain and escape unscathed, but sometimes…
Not once in my life have I ever forced myself to lift when I was injured, not even when my chest had an odd pain. I took a month off from doing chest, and to this date I have no permanent injuries. A friend of mine back in college took the alternate route and ended up tearing something in his shoulder and was told to stay out of the gym for a few months by the doctor he saw. He had two options: filter the pain or rest his body and allow it to repair the damage.
He chose to filter and to go against medical advice. This resulted in a minor injury requiring a month of rest being morphed into a major injury requiring surgery and over one year of recovery. Surgery is a beautiful thing and a well respected art, but it cannot restore your body as your body can itself. My friend was a bodybuilder or a hardcore exerciser. He needed to gain more weight, push more weight, and avoid all obstacles in his path. Some obstacles are not obstacles, some obstacles are just our bodies trying to negotiate its needs with us.
Listen to your body, it is always conveying an important message. Be careful, exercise for health, not for a that photoshopped magazine-worthy body. With a commitment to health and its many factors, you can achieve much more.
Do you exercise when you are injured?
Do you have any permanent injuries (share)?
Is your form of exercise painful or enjoyable?