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Don’t just push through pain

Fit to Farm: Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is not right

Farmers have a culture of pushing through pain. What many fail to realize is that pain is generally not a beneficial thing to push through in terms of longevity in our health and performance. If we are in pain and negatively stressed, we’re more likely to experience burnout, injuries, illnesses, and lower adherence to exercise or wellness programs.

During workouts and busy seasons, having uncomfortable sensations in our body is normal. Pushing yourself to new levels is inherently going to cause discomfort, soreness, and fatigue. However, there is a big difference between pain that comes with growth and pain that is a message from your body saying something is wrong. We can all make this distinction when we really listen to our bodies.

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The other thing to be aware of is the pain that comes because we are pushing ourselves too much. Ongoing fatigue, soreness that lasts longer than a few days after an intense workout, headaches, trouble sleeping, new and sustained muscle tension are all signs of burnout — something not to be ignored.

Preventing negative pain during a workout is quite simple. Pain usually appears with poor biomechanics/form and/or excess fatigue. If you’re new to a movement routine (or have been at it for a while), it’s extremely beneficial to have someone check your form. Whether this is a trainer, knowledgeable gym staff, or an online coach — making sure you’re moving correctly is a huge factor in preventing undue pain.

Besides making sure your form is good, take in appropriate nutrition, hydration, and allow for rest time. These are topics that have been covered in previous articles but the basics are:

  • Eat majority whole/real foods (get rid of processed foods and high sugar foods). Sugar/additives are highly inflammatory to our system and can create problems unnecessarily.
  • Intake two to four litres of water a day, and include electrolytes in your water during periods of increased energy output (including workouts, busy seasons or times of stress). Just getting over a cold or the flu? This is a great time to add additional electrolytes into your hydration routine.
  • Co-ordinate high-intensity workouts with lower-intensity recovery days (two to four strength-based workouts in a week, one to three cardio or longer lower-intensity workouts in a week, and at least one recovery day a week).
  • Pay attention to your body. If you’re feeling off or extra fatigued allow for flexibility in your schedule to swap workout styles or take an extra recovery day. Your performance and health will be better off for it. Rest is often just as valuable as a workout.
  • We all need at least one recovery day in the week so schedule accordingly.

Do not ignore pain. Find a reliable and educated health-care professional who can properly assess your movement, function, and pain site. Having a team on your side saves you inconvenience, pain, and money in the long run.

More ‘Fit to Farm’ with Kathlyn Hossack

Kathlyn Hossack runs a clinical practice in Winnipeg, Manitoba and consults clients throughout rural Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. For questions or consultations email her at [email protected].

About the author

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Kathlyn Hossack runs a clinical practice, Integrative Movement in Winnipeg, Manitoba and consults clients throughout Alberta on a regular basis. For questions or consultations email her at [email protected].

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