"There are no gains without pains." - Benjamin Franklin
This sentiment has been around a long time. I had a student the other day tell me she's been so sore for days. And then she paused and said, "But it's such a good sore!" and we laughed and moved on. I was thinking about her comment later in the day and about how, in the exercise world, being sore is a source of pride. On one hand it is a good thing, it gives people something to commiserate over, to compare what's more sore and to share in the collective knowledge that they worked hard and now have tangible proof. All of that is good. True.
But is being sore really good? And is striving for soreness the only indicator to a good workout? Being sore definitely shows that something new was done, that your muscles are being broken down only to come back stronger, that you worked hard and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone. Again, all of that is good. But when the soreness turns into pain, or lasts longer than it should, then something is wrong. And ignoring it only makes it worse. When we ignore what our body is saying, we risk long-term, if not permanent, injury. And that is not good.
In yoga we talk about the ego getting in the way of listening to the body. Sometimes we need a little ego in order to make progress, we have to want to get better, for whatever reason, and challenge ourselves to grow. But when the ego keeps us stuck in a cycle of pain, growth stops and recovery never begins. I believe this relates to our daily life as well. Think about the people you know who always seem to have drama around them; there's always something wrong, or something broken, or some upset that keeps them stuck in a cycle of pain. In life, drama is the workout that leads to being sore. Some people need to be sore to feel like they got a good workout, some people need to have drama in order to feel alive. But just as muscle soreness is actual micro tears in the muscle fiber, emotional soreness is micro tears in your sense of self worth. And when you don't give your body a chance to heal, you end up with an injury, and injuries, whether physical or emotional, take a long time heal.
If you find yourself stuck in this cycle of pain, instead of pushing and ignoring and causing more hurt, maybe try a workout of kindness instead. Be gentle to your body, your mind, your heart, until you feel the pain subside. Be ok with the stillness, the quiet, the lack of sweat or drama and allow yourself to grow in a different way, a way that makes you stronger AND pain-free. Because the old adage of 'no pain, no gain' doesn't always need to be true.
Wishing you kindness and strength for the holidays.