I have heard many perspectives on pain in an exercise/sports context. “No Pain No Gain” being one end of the spectrum – you aren’t doing it right if it isn’t hurting. I have also heard people suggest that you should stop immediately if anything ever hurts. I suppose I am moderate in this debate, but after thinking about it I came up with a dual-term.
Courage-Pain is a complaint from the body and should be ignored to grow stronger.
Danger-Pain is a warning from the body and should be heeded to prevent injury.
Both of these pains have a distinct flavor and any active person/workout enthusiast/someone who lifts should know intuitively what I mean. Courage-Pain is what you feel 3 minutes into a run, or the delayed onset muscle soreness (acronym DOMS for cool people). It’s a good pain. A fun pain (yes, pain can be fun, non-lifters) a “fight-the-good-fight” pain. Of course on the flipside, being too touchy towards Courage Pain will lead to lots of 14 second workouts and unlaced running shoes. It’s the equivalent of a child not wanting to eat his veggies. Your body needs the stressor or activity to grow. Toughen up and chew!
Danger-Pain is the real deal. A twinge in the knee or back. Something that feels “wrong” right before another set or another mile. Pain is of course a priceless treasure when operating properly as it can alert you to stop doing a thing before you incur irreparable damage to your organism. Ignoring danger pain is not courageous, it’s stupid. There may be weight to the addage “No Pain No Gain”, but if you heedlessly press on and overtax a delicate bodypart that crying out for you to stop, the only thing you will Gain is more Pain.
So, to summate. It is my opinion that not all pain is created equal, and that with intelligence and feeling out what your body can take (without mistaking it for the mind telling you to stop first!) you can achieve a healthy dose of courage while avoiding most of the danger.