Pushing Through The Pain (Part 1)

Pain. As CrossFitters we all experience it at some point. Whether it is the pain of finishing a taxing “WOD” or the pain of sore muscles after a heavy leg day or maybe it is from an injury that you have suffered in or out of the gym; pain is something that most of us come to relish as part of the journey to a healthier, stronger you. I am probably preaching to the choir when I say all pain is a good thing, but for those that don’t believe me, hear me out.

Your body is constantly striving for homeostasis (this is a fancy word for balance). When you push your body to the limit in a workout, the pain you experience when you aren’t sure your legs will continue to work, you can hardly raise your arms above your head, you are breathing so hard that your heart is racing and your lungs are burning is all a feedback mechanism telling your brain that maybe, just maybe you are going ‘too’ hard and need to dial it back a bit. But, there is something to be said about pushing through this pain. Breaking through this barrier is where a lot of the gains can be made. Taking your body to a limit you didn’t know you had can increase strength, speed, endurance and actually anything you are training for.

Some people seem to be better at pushing their bodies more than others and this is where the mental side of training comes in. You know these people, the ones that always seem to have another gear and no matter what you do you can never seem to catch them. You see, your brain is the place where you actually feel pain. If your brain wasn’t connected to your muscles via your nerves you wouldn’t be able to feel anything (let alone move and workout)! So the question then becomes, how do you teach your brain to push through the pain so you can get the gain? Next time you find yourself in the pain cave, try one of these mind busting techniques!

  1. Break the workout into smaller chunks – got a 20min AMRAP to complete? Time your first round and then try to match it for the whole 20 minutes. Need to get through a lot of reps at a heavy weight, commit to smaller sets and rest for only 5 breaths.
  2. Pick a mantra – this can be beneficial in two ways one it is motivating and uplifting i.e “I can do this” or “F*#^ this workout, I am crushing it” or somewhere in between that; it can also take your mind off the actual work you are doing, by the time you have repeated it to yourself a couple of times, you might be through a whole round.
  3. Picture the end of the workout – the time when you get to stop and then imagine the feelings that goes along with it: relief, exhaustion, pride and euphoria just to name a few.
  4. Silently compete with someone else – using an athlete who is a fraction stronger and faster than you is a great way to push into your pain zone. Try to keep up with them or even beat them at the workout and reap the benefits.

The next question we have to answer is when is it not a good thing to push through the pain? Check back next week to find out!

What do you do to push yourself into your pain zone? I would to hear about them!

Dr. Liz Marshall – Chiropractor


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