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STRENGTH TRAINING: THE PAIN SOLUTION.

Updated: May 17, 2022

Pain is one of the most fundamental parts of human existence.


While it is something we usually try to avoid and get rid of once it’s there, it is pretty much a two-edged sword: on one hand, pain is a signal that something in our body has gotten “out of balance”, and it can be a positive driver for us to get to the root of the problem and take action.


On the other hand, chronic, debilitating pain presents a burden not just for our physical functioning, but also for our mental and emotional health as it occupies our attention for large parts of the day, entrapping us in a vicious circle.


Did you know that the number one reason for sickness absence at work– after “minor illness” – is MUSCULOSKELETAL PROBLEMS?


Or in other words: PHYSICAL PAIN?


Does it not make you wonder how we got into this situation?


And why we don’t see a "public health" campaign addressing this problem?



Conventional wisdom will have you believe three things:

1 "Lifting heavy breaks your back and bones"

2 "When in pain, the best thing to do is to stretch and mobilise"

3 "In the worst-case scenario: do not worry, as we have a chiropractor or physio ready for you."


A sober analysis of the situation would raise the question: if this conventional wisdom has held true, then why are we still seeing physical pain as the second major reason for missed days at work globally?


And why are hundreds of millions people worldwide still presenting with back pain, joint pain, and other forms of physical ailments which are not caused by direct sudden impact?


Quoting the famous Albert Einstein:


“The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again while expecting different outcomes.”


I believe Albert had a point.



So – let’s FLIP the argument for a second and experiment with the OPPOSITE THOUGHT for a while. Shall we?!


Do you believe that the presence of strong bodies is the reason for our pain epidemic – or the ABSENCE of it?


Do you believe that thin, small, and weak tissue has a greater susceptibility to pain – or a thicker, bigger, and denser version thereof?


While pain is a complex topic, much of its presence has to do with the fact our body does not follow the natural line of physiological adaptation it SHOULD to get stronger and more resilient:


APPLY A STRESS - RECOVER FROM IT - AND ADAPT TO A HIGHER LEVEL


This is the most fundamental principle of how humans have changed and evolved over time. And getting our body strong and resistant to pain is no different.


How?


Strength training done with barbells produces HIGHEST LEVELS OF FORCE in the body.


High forces tell the body “You need to respond – otherwise you won’t be able to handle the next stimulus!”


What does the body do?


It responds by laying down

  • Stronger and bigger muscles (note: we're not talking bodybuilder muscles)

  • Denser connective tissue

  • Stronger bones

  • Greater body and joint stability


Yoga, pilates, stretching and similar forms of activity do not follow this line of adaptation.


Such practices can make you stronger to a degree in the first place (especially if you have never moved before – as ANYTHING will make you stronger then!) – but as strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance, yoga and the likes CANNOT make you stronger over time as there is no potential to increase external resistance!


Lack of external resistance = lack of response to stress = lack of adaptation.



When you have chronic pain, you are not suffering from an acute injury anymore. Your tissue is NOT damaged. It is NOT broken, torn, or pulled.


You are just WEAK and need to zap up your system with heavy lifting to get your electricity going again.


Remember:


Stronger muscles take load off your joints.


They act as a buffer which spare your tendons, ligaments, and capsules from bearing much of external loads in everyday activities.



How do we get stronger in the best way?


With full-body barbell lifts as they allow us to apply the heaviest load possible at any given time.

SQUATS...

  • Strengthen your lower back

  • Create a strong spine (including discs)

  • Strengthen your glutes and hamstrings – two of the most important back stabilisers


DEADLIFTS produce similar tremendous results.


OVERHEAD PRESSES

  • Strengthen your shoulder joint & its surrounding structures

  • “Open up” your shoulder and mitigate risk of shoulder impingement

  • Strengthen the “core” as the body has to switch on rapidly to stabilise a heavy weight on top of your head


I know you're afraid of hurting more when you’re in pain. But let me assure you that this clears within 3-5 weeks once you get your body moving under the bar again. There IS a weight light enough to match your current abilities. Start there with proper technique and increase it over time.


The process of getting stronger is very simple: train regularly (ideally 3x/week), lift heavier from workout to workout, and reap the rewards of building a stronger, more resilient, and – dare I say – PAIN-FREE – you.


We have a solution.


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