Good Pain VS Bad Pain

May 29, 2017

How do you tell if you are suffering from good or bad pain? How do you decide when you have reached your maximum effort and you need to take a break?

Many believe that pain is inevitable when it comes to getting stronger and fitter. After all, that is where the popular saying, “No pain, no gain” fits in.

Good pain — or discomfort — according to sport and exercise physician Dr Andrew Jowett, reflects positive change in the body, and is part of the body's adaption to an activity or physical load.

"What we know about muscle adaption to (physical) loads is that when you put it under load or under stress, you actually cause microscopic injury to the muscle," Dr Jowett says.

"That injury stimulates muscle healing and hopefully replication of muscle fibres and ultimately strengthening. So that's the good sort of pain we're after out of any workout — to prevent injuries or to improve our performance."

To increase one’s muscle strength, the muscle has to have some form of increase in load, creating the stress and “burn”. This burning sensation is also termed as the building of lactic acid in the body.

Lactic acid is one of the most common "pain" and discomfort people feel while they are involved in an exercise. There may be times where there is insufficient oxygen as your muscles work and use oxygen to generate more energy at a faster rate during exercise. Lactic acid tends to go away shortly after we stop the exercise or strenuous activity.

If you feel a ‘sharp’ or ‘shooting’ pain that is accompanied with numbness or pins and needles, this could be an indication of a bad pain. You should immediately stop your activity and seek the help and advice of a physiotherapist.

So how can you counter and reduce good pain? One effective recovery method is to get a sports massage after your training session. Deep tissue massage helps to flush lactic acid out of congested tissues. It is vitally important that all athletes get a regular massage as it gives extra maintenance to the whole body.

Sports massage also helps to improve performance and reduce the likelihood of injuries. After a good massage, you will feel lighter, more powerful and more flexible.

This post has been written by Goh Yun Jie.

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