Being Smart about Pain and Tightness

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“No pain no gain” is one of the worst quotes associated with fitness.

It creates a sense that anyone that isn’t working to their limits is wasting their time.

This statement actually sets back most people from their goals.

There is a time and place to absolutely work your butt and be smoked by a workout.

The time is not every time.

This is when we have to define what we are talking about when it comes to pain, soreness, tightness, and discomfort.

Discomfort happens during the workout and is the result of performing challenging work.

Soreness can happen after the workout and happens for a number of reasons. Muscular soreness can be due to a new exercise, a new weight, improper recovery, or your personal profile of which muscles recover better than others.

Soreness does not have to be present for a session to be effective. It actually can inhibit the next day or two by making you less strong to perform the next workout.

Pain should never be the goal of exercise. Pain can be described as sharp, burning, stinging, shooting, etc. It is a serious matter.

knee pain

Someone is pain is definitely not going to make any progress. Training through it is nearly impossible as well.

When pain is present, the muscles receive messages to shutdown.

Pain basically becomes the E-brake on your car. Driving around on the e-brake will completely rob you of your potential.

Tightness on the other hand is a whole can of worms that I cannot even begin to completely cover.

Everyone’s first instinct to tightness is to stretch.

In reality, stretching is probably the last ditch effort to handling chronic tightness.

Tightness is usually an indicator that something is wrong. Not very often is it the painful area that is actually the issue.

A good example of this is shoulder pain in the front of the body in the presence of rounded shoulders.


This is almost never an issue with the shoulder structure itself it has to do with the alignment of the shoulder.

Fix the alignment and the pain will go away.

Other guidelines to dealing with tension are as follows.

1. Make sure the joints are in proper alignment
2. Work on the soft tissues of the areas above and below the tight area
3. Build balanced strength to avoid imbalances
4. Rest the area if it is chronically bothersome
5. Then stretch

Stretching a muscle that is tight due to weakness is not going to fix anything. It actually is probably going to make things worse.

If any of restrictions have the muscle “locked up” then stretching becomes a moot point.

The important part to take away from pain and tightness is that the initial problem needs to be fixed before anything else.

You are not just going to take an injured area, stretch it, and have it magically fix itself.

Making sure the joint is in good alignment first is the most important step. Sometimes this requires the intervention of health care professionals.

You cannot build strength, mobility, or flexibility on a joint that is not aligned. It will only cause more pain, tightness, and frustration.