Fighting the No-Pain-No-Gain Philosophy
Monday, September 21, 2009
Today I have been thinking about one of our society's favorite mantras: "No Pain, No Gain." As I slowly lope around the house on my crutches chasing after my 1 year old, it hit me how much I have subscribed to this particular philosophy. It's not that the concept is all around a bad idea...it's just that we take it the wrong way. For instance, we love to apply this concept to physical activity and fitness. Yes, discomfort is a natural part of a healthy level of hard exercise. But I do a terrible job of disinguishing between discomfort and the pain that is telling me..."Hey! Cut it out - you're causing damage here!!" As a dancer in high school and in early college I found I could push my way through anything. I prided myself in my ridiculously high pain tollerance. Yes, I can blame a good deal of my current 11 month battle with tendonitis in my ankle on the fact that my body wasn't ready to start dancing again 3 months after having a baby. That is really only partly true. I wasn't ready to dance at the level I used to dance at, yes. But had I listened to my body when it started hurting and backed off the intensity and rested, I would still be dancing today - instead of hobbling along on crutches almost a year later. (and of course having not been able to dance or run or any such thing since then) Not only that, but my younger attempts at proving my prowess to the world have resulted in turning me into a 25 year old with bad knees, a bad shoulder, back problems, wrist pain, and who knows what else. Seriously...I'm 25!!! I'm not supposed to be falling apart! Suffice to say that I think I have finally learned my lesson - now that I am spending thousands of dollars on physical therapy, orthopedic and chiropractic bills, and medications to try and patch myself back together.
Yes, sometimes what doesn't kill us makes us stronger...but sometimes it just leaves us weakened with holes in our defenses. I really want to live a long, healthy, active life - but first I have to work on piecing myself back together so I can. I hope that I can inspire others to take care of themselves and listen to their bodies. Patience is not something our society values much, but a little caution and restraint early on will do wonders for us later in life.