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Stress, Recovery & Pain perception


By Caron Bosler - Caron has been teaching Pilates for over 15 years. She received her Yoga Teacher Training from Yoga Vida Gurukul. She is the author of 3 books on Pilates. For more information please go to www.cor-e-nergy.com

Stress, Recovery and the Pain Perception

We all know when we?re in pain: the twisted ankle, the repetitive strain, the burn, the heartbreak. But when it comes to exercise, is there such a thing as a ?good? pain? I?m often told by clients that they don?t want to ?feel the burn? or ?be sore? because it is ?too painful.? But if we are able to change our mental perception, would we be able to increase our ability to walk into the discomfort instead of away from it?

The word "pain" comes from the Latin "poena" meaning a fine, a penalty. I want to make a clear difference between an acute, sharp, or piercing pain and the feeling of heat that comes into a muscle when it is working at its max, or the soreness after a great workout. When it comes to training, I want you to think of the feeling of sprinting the last block home after a long run. There are different theories on the intensity necessary for muscular strength. But the fact is, when we exercise, we are purposely stressing are muscles in order to gain strength. All improvement in muscular strength comes from stress and recovery. Overloading is the sports term for lifting a weight slightly outside of your comfort range. The reason for this is the muscle then has to build strength in order to lift that amount of weight again.There are two different approaches to dealing with pain- The first is to ignore it and focus the mind on other things. This is why running outside can be better than running on a treadmill. The brain can focus on much more stimuli in the park than the amount of minutes left on the clock. The other is to focus on the discomfort as a way to monitor performance. Interestingly, many top athletes choose the latter.

After an intense workout, soreness usually starts to set in about 8 hours later and is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This was originally thought to be caused by lactic acid build up in the muscle, but is now thought to come from microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. In order for muscles to heal, they respond to training by reinforcement through increasing the size of its muscle fibers. ?This ... process causes the cells to swell in their compartment and puts pressure on the nerves and arteries producing pain.? (wikipedia) So next time your feeling sore after training, you know why! Soreness should generally subside within 2-3 days.

As a side note, while resistance training can be intense, and some levels of discomfort may occur, pain is not essential for a great workout. Learning to listen to the signals your body is giving you is essential.

One of the founding principles of pilates is centering. While in Joe?s day that just meant initiating movement from your core, today it also has other connotations. Focus your attention on the muscles you are working. Let them talk to you. They will tell you - I am working at my max. I feel tired. I only have a couple seconds left. I quit!


Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak; sometimes it means you are strong enough to let go.? - Unknown

'It is easier to heal a skinned knee than a broken heart' - Unknown

Caron Bosler - http://www.cor-e-nergy.com