We’ve all heard the old saying- “No pain No Gain” but did you know that there are three main types of physical pain that can really wreak havoc on your training. The new saying needs to be “Listen to your Body” in order to realize and take action when the wrong type of pain becomes all too frequent.
The First Type of Pain — The Pain of Challenge
This type of discomfort from “killer” workouts makes it hard to drag yourself up the stairs or get off the toilet usually a day or two after a hard workout.
This is the pain that HURTS SO GOOD and the type of pains that we make all the GAINS from.
Most of us need more of this from our workouts, but too much of a good thing is never good. We also need to build some rest into our training plans. No one can improve exponentially forever, it’s not physiologically possible. The body needs time to rest and recover from a hard workout and get stronger for the next.
The Second Type of Pain — The Warning Pain
This is your body’s alert system, the sharp weird signals and twinges that make you say- oh boy! What was that?! That was weird. That’s not NORMAL! Landing a jump just a little short with your foot not firmly planted on the pedal will send a searing pain up the back of the calf — signaling a possible achilles tendon injury or gastrocnemius muscle tear.
This is your body’s radar warning you to take notice and NOT do that again! If we catch these early enough there is still time to do something (usually quite simple things) about them before they turn into full-blown “issues.”
Do not ignore this type of pain and keep riding through it. Get some help quickly to figure out what it is and how to remedy it so it leaves you alone.
The Third Type of Pain — The Chronic Pain
These are the pains that come from life experiences. They are the ones that make us shake our heads, laugh and sometimes cringe when we recall the experience.
For example from that fractured collar bone -the one that taught you to NOT grab the front brake in a panic, sending you abruptly OTB and landing you in surgery or a sling, out of commission for the season. As we age these past lessons pop up occasionally as a testament to all the fun we’ve had and hard lessons learned.
These are the pains we need to manage, keeping ourselves out of the doctors office, off of the surgery table and on the bike. Endurance athletes are good at ignoring these types of pain all too well, pushing the signals down and ignoring them until they rear their ugly heads.
They are the chronic reminders to get into the gym or Physio to fix imbalances or work on our limited mobility with some restorative self-care. These things need to be seen for what they are, a chronic nagging and do things proactively to make sure it doesn’t derail our big plans!
Think of Pain as a WARNING Sign for a Potential Cycling Injury
Regardless of which of the three types of pain you are experiencing you need to respond appropriately with rest, self or professional assessment and preventative measures.
So learn to turn up your “spidy sense” and pay ATTENTION.
Listen to the 3 different pain types your body is feeling to plan your next steps. Your next move (to the hammock for rest, to the Physio for evaluation or to the gym/yoga mat for strengthening and mobility work) could be the MOST IMPORTANT factor in how your upcoming season plays out.