In contrast, according to Wikipedia, the often quoted and believed phrase, “No pain, no gain (or "No gain without pain") is an exercise motto that came to prominence in the bodybuilding community. It expresses the belief that solid large muscle is a result from hard training and repeatedly suffering sore muscles, implying that those who avoid pain will never reach professional level of bodybuilder. It is questionable whether the phrase is accurate. There is little research to back the claim that muscle soreness is directly correlated with muscle growth. Furthermore, in some instances, pain is a signal of injury that should be heeded rather than revered.”
I disagree with the words ‘in some instances’. Does that mean that most of the time pain should be tolerated and not indicate a red flag? There is a subjective aspect to what designates pain for some people. Stretching or engaging in both aerobic workouts (cardio) or anaerobic workouts (weight training) to a sensation that borders on some discomfort for one person may produce pain for another. This doesn’t mean that the person who feels pain ‘should’ continue as the person who feels slight discomfort might do. Just as we possess different outer physical characteristics, our muscles and ligaments have different internal characteristics. An awareness of our unique musculature enables an intelligent approach to caring for ourselves during everyday activities and while we are engaged in an exercise program, be it yoga, biking walking, running, swimming etc.
This is where the Alexander Technique can help to build awareness of harmful habits of use that can become magnified during vigorous activity. Learning to selectively exert less muscular effort can build strength through building efficiency. Learning not to tighten your neck muscles during sitting and standing can help elucidate how to perform a squat or yoga pose, or to sprint to the finish line (or to a bus, for that matter).
The next time you exercise or find yourself challenged in activity, try this:
DO be aware of your neck – think of softening.
DO notice if you are holding your breath. (You are probably tightening your neck).
DO take extra time when learning something new. Set your own pace, regardless of everyone else around you.
DO realize that your habits may make change difficult. Pause and notice, then you can take a different approach. (This was the key to F.M. Alexander’s discovery – pausing before action).
DO choose an activity that you really enjoy.