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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Experts caution pain may be no gain after all when it comes to exercise

No pain, no gain? Not exactly true, experts say. 
“No pain, no gain” is the motto that transformed Jane Fonda into a 1980s lifestyle brand decades before Gwyneth Paltrow slid her first homemade prosciutto-and-endangered-species-pesto pizza into her backyard wood-burning oven.
Back then Fonda served as an aerobic ideal, teaching men and women how to get into gluteus maximus-shrinking shape through her series of VHS exercise tapes.
The idea was that without a certain level of muscular discomfort, there would be no visible results. And to a certain extent that’s true. Without putting in the right kind of work and carefully pushing your limits, you won’t change your body shape. Emphasis on the “right kind,” of course. Please consult your nearest fitness and nutrition expert for more details.
But actual, sustained pain? That’s probably not a good thing.
The problem is that some people tend to take things to an extreme. If they’re not icing their baby elephant-sized quads at the end of each daily three-hour gym session they chastise themselves for slacking.
Taking a day off from the 10K circuit means a 20K run the next day. And lest a single morsel of polyunsaturated fat cross their lips, that’s another 100 burpees.
And as sports doctors and researchers are noting, these people are “paining and gaining” themselves into burnout, chronic injury – or worse. Some develop long-term illness from taxing their bodies to the point where the immune system starts to deteriorate.
Aly Spads, a Toronto-based personal trainer, tells the Toronto Star that the key to healthy physical change, even for athletes, is to give your body time to recover from strenuous activity.
“In order to see any changes in our body we need to introduce a stress to make that adaptation, so exercise is a stress, a good stress but it’s still a stress on our bodies. In order to see the change you need the rest period.”
Like everything else in life, balance is the key. Though Spynga co-founder Casey Soer recommends four days of training to three days of “rest,” that doesn’t necessarily mean settling into the part of your sofa that is permanently shaped like your butt for eight-hour stretches.
 Rest can simply mean changing things up, like going for a walk or engaging in some light exercise and giving the target muscles you usually train a little time to breathe.

Naturally, the cautionary tales are as abundant as they are frightening (just try to read some of them without clutching your limbs in empathy). Researchers from the Mayo Clinic to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise have also started to put out clear warnings to the same effect.

What many of these “painers” learn is that they wish they’d listened to their bodies. The lucky ones get this lesson before it’s too late, but not everyone can impart their hard-earned wisdom from a place of physical health.

Physical exercise is vital to overall health and wellbeing, so it’s important to take care that we’re able to partake in it effectively and chronic pain-free.


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