The Science Of Why It Hurts So Damn Good
This article first appeared as a blog on https://fiit.tv/
Could you imagine if we were one of those brands that said stuff like, The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow? We can’t.
But, with the launch of Boss Level, we thought we’d team up with Gede for a deep dive into the science of good pain. Look at why it’s sometimes good to ask our bodies to do difficult things. How to minimise muscle soreness. And find out why some of us just love to hurt.
THE GOOD PAIN
Exercise is incredibly important. And inactivity is the fourth biggest killer worldwide. But, being fit can sometimes be a pain in the glutes.
Gede says: When we train we stress the body. This creates micro tears in our muscles called myofibrils. These are the ‘good’ kind. They promote muscle growth. And depending on the intensity of the workout, they can leave you feeling pretty sore.
This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Or, DOMS. And when we exercise, it’s usually eccentric movements (the contraction while lengthening the muscle) that give us DOMS. For example, the lowering phase of a bicep curl or running downhill.
Not everyone loves DOMS. Sometimes sitting down can feel like hard work – let alone another workout. But know that it’s all a process. It’s your body learning and adapting. Next time you do that same thing, your body will know and you won’t feel so sore.
YOUR COMFORT ZONE IS TOO SAME-SAME
To be more. We have to do more. If we want to do 100 unbroken push ups – we need to do more push ups. If we want to run a marathon – we need to run more. And if we want to take our fitness to the next level – we need to train at the next level.
Gede says: Progress is made outside your comfort zone. It builds physical and mental toughness. And it’s not just about the mat. When you train your ability to deal with discomfort, you’re building trust that you can conquer hard things.
None of us will feel comfortable doing Boss Level. Not even me, Luke, Adrienne, Sean, Gus and Corinne – and we made this monsta! But that’s a good thing. For the whole Fiit community, this is a chance to prove what we’re capable of. And be proud of it!
HOW TO MINIMISE DOMS
If you’re going to train at the next level, you’re going to get DOMS. No matter what. But, there are a few things we can do to limit the pain. And make sure simple tasks like going to the toilet doesn’t become too torturous.
Gede says: DOMS can be reduced by sufficient warm-up and cool downs. If you are starting a programme or taking on a big session like Boss Level, it can be tempting to jump straight in. But it’s important to ease yourself in so it isn’t such a shock to the body.
While doing nothing for a few days seems logical, adding in some light active recovery can help. Whether that be yoga/mobility work, some low impact cardio or a light walk. Some easy movements can actually promote recovery – by driving blood into the muscles to repair and reduce the swelling.
When it comes to nutrition, the exact strategy will vary from person to person and you should always seek out nutrition advice from a qualified professional, but remember to refuel with carbohydrates, rebuild with protein and rehydrate effectively – especially while it’s hot.
CALL A SADIST A SADIST
Some people just love the pain cave. One of our founders, Ian McCaig, is an unapologetically unhinged human being. He ran across the Sahara Desert for fun. And while that isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ – turns out he’s not the only one who yearns for suffering.
Gede says: Research has found that people who sit most of the time – at work, on the couch, in the car – can really enjoy going beyond the limits. For instance, Ultramarathons are far more popular with people who sit in offices all day. And this is because stress forces our body to focus. It becomes a form of escapism – like reading or meditating.
Plus, exercise releases a whole bunch of delicious endorphins, which interact with receptors in our brains to reduce the perception of pain and make us feel amazing! This is why the lines between pleasure and pain are so often blurred.
Ultimately – pushing ourselves to the next level can be a tough ask. It comes with a few aches and pains. But for many of us, DOMS is a glorious part of progress.
So, learn to love them. Focus on recovery. And only run across the Sahara if you really, really, really want to.