Should You Work Out When You Are in Pain?


Have you ever wondered if you are exercising correctly because certain movements are painful? Have you ever put off going to the gym because your current routine leaves you feeling sore and tired? Physical pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. The old saying, “No pain, no gain.” is a huge fallacy. When something hurts, stop it immediately, breathe deeply and drink some water. Stretch the area slowly and lightly. Evaluate the situation wisely before continuing your workout.  


Working out is supposed to improve your quality of life as you build muscle, endurance, and self- esteem.  A certain amount of muscle soreness can be expected when you begin a new program or when you beef-up a routine with new exercises. This soreness, known as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS), usually follows the workout and lasts a day or two. If pain persists several days and grows worse, consult a physician. 


This is especially true for individuals with pre-existing joint or muscle issues. You don’t want to do something to make it worse. If you already have certain conditions, consult your doctor before beginning or restarting your routine. I am referring here to things like chronic neck pain, shoulder impingement or rotator cuff issues, chronic low back pain and chondromalacia (wearing of the patella). Once you’re diagnosed and treated for one of these ailments, only with your physician’s approval should you return to working out. Most doctors will tell you that with the correct progressive exercise program many of the above conditions can be greatly improved or even eliminated! 


Here are a few steps you can take to keep strong and pain free for years to come.


  1. Don’t forget the importance of a 5-10 minute warm-up before training. A brief walk to the gym or a few minutes on a recumbent bike can rev-up your metabolism and warm-up joints and muscles preventing injuries.
  2. Stretch briefly and lightly before lifting weights. Save more intensive stretching of the muscle group you are working for between sets or after your overall workout. 
  3. Weight training should be progressive. Begin with a light warm-up set and then progressively challenge your muscles with the next few sets as you add weight gradually and carefully. Keep a journal of the weight you lift. 
  4. Carefully watch your form as you perform each exercise. Get a good contraction of the muscle during the positive or concentric part of the motion and slow down on the negative or eccentric phase of the repetition. Never rush or jerk as you lift. Check out on-line exercise routines, watch other guys who are training wisely, and better yet, hire a trainer for at least a couple of sessions so that you get started on the right track! No matter how jacked you feel, don’t forget to take at least 1 full day off from the gym to rest those muscles.