Exercise isn’t easy — and it shouldn’t be! When you have a fitness goal (to lose weight, improve cardio health, run your first 5K…whatever it is), you must step out of your comfort zone in order to get results. That being said, you could be going too far past that sweet spot and well on your way to the doctor’s waiting room.
BUSTED: The old adage “no pain, no gain” is definitely one of the biggest fitness myths ever. I believe that the moment you feel pain, you must stop whatever exercise you are doing. I tell all of my VIP clients that it’s not fun if it’s not safe.
Plan to prevent pain:
- Safety comes first — ALWAYS! Recruit a spotter whenever you’re lifting. Even if you aren’t lifting insane weights, it’s smart to have someone nearby. Grab your gym buddy, because things happen.
- Focus on form during every exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done one squat or a million. When muscles get tired, it’s harder to keep precise form. Pay attention, especially as your workout progresses. Standing in front of a mirror is a great way to keep yourself in check. If you’re new to exercise, consider hiring a trainer who can guide you through the basics.
- Be aware and tune into your body, so you intuitively know when something is wrong. As you become a more experienced fitness fanatic, you’ll learn how your body responds to certain stressors. This will help you determine what’s normal for you and what’s not. And don’t start comparing yourself to others. Every body is different!
- Recharge your weary muscles with the right recovery supplements. This can be in the form of a post-workout shake packed with optimal protein and carbs, or you could keep it simple with pure aminos.
- Space out your training sessions, so you aren’t hitting the same muscle group so hard day in and day out. Schedule weight-lifting workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then fill in the rest of the week with cardio and yoga or Pilates.
Treat pain naturally if you’ve gone too far:
If you do feel aches and pains, make sure you take action to alleviate the discomfort. My top picks are topical solutions:
- Arnica cream – This homeopathic injury treatment is not like those menthol muscle rubs. It’s free of parabens, petroleum and overpowering fragrance. I swear by it!
- Pain-relief patches – Nothing is more soothing than a soak in a hot bath. With these warming patches, you can take the comfort of a heating pad or hot tub on the go. They apply directly to skin and can be worn for up to 8 hours.
- Icing gel - It’s not as relaxing, but a cold compress can also help ease muscle pain — especially if you have noticeable inflammation.
Jennifer Nicole Lee is an international fitness model, best-selling author and motivational speaker who has appeared on Oprah, CBS The Early Show, Inside Edition, E! Entertainment and Fox and Friends. She is the author of the The Fun Fit Foodie Cookbook and was named one of the “Three Top Females in the Fitness Industry” of 2011 by Yahoo Sports. Check out her health and fitness tip videos exclusively on the Vitacost Live Wire.