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Is there any truth in ‘no pain no gain’? By Marathon Physio Lucy Macdonald


Is there any truth in ‘no pain no gain’?

Yes and no. The only way that your body will get stronger and fitter is if you push it beyond its normal levels of activity. This causes microtrauma, or damage to the tissues of the body which results in discomfort. The body’s healing and repair mechanisms then kick in and not only mend the damaged tissue but make it stronger and more resilient than before.


What can cause pain with no gain?

Three things undermine this process:

  • The first is if you push the body too far too quickly then excessive damage is caused resulting in more intensive pain and a reduced ability to train.
  • The second is if you do not give enough time for recovery.
  • The third is that the ingredients required for recovery, which include nutrients and sleep, are not available to the body.

Any one of these things result, at best, in a plateau in strength and fitness or, at worst, a reduction of fitness, progressive weakness, fatigue and repetitive injury.


How can I avoid suffering pain with no gain?

So, to avoid a situation where you are suffering pain with no gain, make sure you pace yourself, have a clear recovery programme and build your training programme up in small increments. You can read more about these things later.


More marathon physio advice 

Follow @octopusclinic on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and/or Lucy Macdonald on YouTube to access our latest free videos on marathon training and injury prevention. If you would like our marathon handbook and are running for charity please contact Lucy Macdonald directly on lucymacdonaldphysio@hotmail.co.uk or if you would like to get the video course Your Marathon: Your Physio please click on the link. 

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