Pain is part and parcel of working out, and can be tough to push through for even the most stellar of athletes. However, that doesn’t mean you have to let it derail you from your training routine. Instead, by reading through these simple strategies on how to manage and power through pain, you stand to gain a greater understanding of how your body works, while ensuring that the hours you spend in the gym are fruitful ones.
1. Develop a mindfulness practice
Utilising any sort of mindfulness practices or strategies requires you to be familiar with your own body, and can help you distinguish discomfort from actual pain, which could signal injury. Although it requires you to take some time out to get to know your body, its benefits, including better pain control, improved sleep and reduced stress, among others, are not to be sniffed at.
2. Plan for and embrace discomfort
Rather than dread the pain that a workout or race is sure to bring, make reference to similar experiences you have had in the past so that any discomfort you encounter doesn’t catch you by surprise. This way, you can focus single-mindedly on the bigger picture while quashing self-deprecating thoughts that could lead to a defeatist mindset.
3. Set small goals
If the thought of your workout for the day fills you with dread, try to make it easier to stomach by taking it a step at a time. This not only acts as a distraction so that you can keep going, but also keeps your motivation up through the sense of accomplishment you get from achieving these small goals.
4. Distract yourself
Whether it’s counting to a certain number in your head, or trying to count how many red coloured objects you can find in your local gym, finding something to occupy your mind with can make sure that the pain you feel isn’t at the forefront of your mind. As long as the distraction you choose isn’t something beyond your control (like the speed of another runner, or weather conditions), pretty much anything goes.
5. Observe the sensations
Of course, the techniques above will only work for a certain amount of pain. What happens if the pain you experience passes your threshold and becomes excruciating? In this case, your best bet is acceptance rather than resistance. Confront the pain and focus on what you can control, such as your pace, breathing and muscle tension.
As long as the pain you’re feeling is more “discomforting” than “injurious”, you have nothing to worry about! Don’t be afraid of pain – if anything, it’s a sign that you’re being challenged. By using these strategies, you can improve your performance in the gym and make the hours you spend honing your physique even more worthwhile.