The Dangers of the “No Pain, No Gain” Mentality

August 20, 2015

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “no pain, no gain” when exercising or playing sports. If you live by the phrase, you’ve probably pushed yourself to go past your limits or kept going even if you’ve injured yourself.

Overuse Injuries Are All Too Common

In a recent study, it was found that in college athletes, about 30 percent of all injuries were from overuse. Overuse injuries happen over time as opposed to a singular event like a sprained ankle. They can be difficult to diagnose because many people don’t associate long-term exercise with injury. As long as you can bear the pain, it’s alright, right?

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Pushing Through the Pain Takes a Toll on Your Body

The pressure to succeed, even in the spirit of healthy competition, sometimes means more to athletes than allowing the body time to heal. When ignored, overuse injuries can lead to problems like reduced strength and flexibility. You can also feel burnt out and stressed.

You’re Affected Mentally Too

Poor body image isn’t limited to women. The number of men who worry more about what they look like than their health is on the rise, which contributes to the “no pain, no gain” mentality. The message being sent is, “If you want to look like this model, you have to push through the workout.”

Don’t believe it. The pressure to succeed and maintain a “tough” physical appearance can be damaging to men. It pressures men into not realizing when enough is enough and the consequences of “powering through” pain.

How to Gain without the Pain

To avoid overuse injuries and overcome the “no pain, no gain” mentality, know what mistakes to avoid and when to stop pushing yourself. Doing so can help you not only stay safe, but exercise better. Pain doesn’t equal success. If you’re in pain while exercising, stop and take a break. Don’t try to work through it. If the pain continues, talk to your doctor.

It’s also important not to shame or call out others who stop because of pain. Doing so only perpetuates this harmful mentality. Just because you believe you can “work through it”, doesn’t mean everyone should. It doesn’t make you any “tougher” or them any “weaker.”

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