Discernment of Good and Bad Pain in Exercising and Stretching

When Stretching:
The body gives us ‘feeling’ feedback via sensory nerves, when you stretch, work out or lift a heavy object consider the difference between good and bad pain.
Good pain in the context of stretching has a quality of release, a very tight muscle will feel tight/ uncomfortable when initially stretching it and you may be emotionally resistant, so the method of approach is key! Proceed with awareness and carefully to gradually affect release, explore the edges of your comfort zone without being a bulldozer which will gradually establish a new resting length.
Bad pain is sharp, shooting and may refer to other areas, learn to differentiate, avoid forcing and gradually expand your whole- body awareness from the inside out.

In Context of Aerobic Exercise:
In the context of aerobic exercise, build up progressively, develop an understanding of your breathing/ heart rate to work at a sustainable rate. If you are new to running for example, combine periods of walking in-between the running segments to build the aerobic engine/ working muscles, this will help to prevent quick fatigue and build endurance.
The mindset and emotions are especially important in our perception of and response to fatigue when exercising. Assuming one starts from a baseline of adequate rest, fuelling and hydration, it may still feel like hard work. You may experience resistance and feel like stopping (which of course is fine), yet what I find interesting is the exploration of moving through these barriers, seeing them as impermanent and building mental strength which permeates all areas of life; in addition we develop our endurance and fitness.

Strength Training:
In the context of weight lifting, gym based or otherwise, form is king and NOT bigger weights.
Weight lifting for ‘show biceps’ is really not my thing, moderate weight training to develop strength in assistance of other sports or activities can be very useful and help prevent injuries, for example squats and lunges for runners or cyclists target the very muscles they will be using in said sports and help to develop more power. A progressive approach is fundamental, ensure that your technique is good, when starting out get advice from gym staff, a personal trainer or me.

The thread which pervades all movement is the cultivation of whole-body awareness, no body part exists in isolation and we all have the capacity to sense, feel and use our body in a skilful way with some training and practice. This body must last a lifetime and is worthy of our care.

Leave a Comment