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Can Some Pain When Lifting Be Ok?

When I lift - sometimes there is pain. I don’t mean discomfort, or feeling tired. But pain. And yet, I feel like some kinds of pain are an indicator of progress for me, as long as there is no sharp pains after the workout.

Me, I am working through some shoulder, back, and other issues (due to some chronic conditions). When I first started to bench press (w/ a machine), 6 years ago, I had shoulder pain doing even with no weight on the machine! Just the shoulder position (neutral) was painful. Yet, keeping at it, the pain eventually got better. I felt as if I was really tearing through some limiters, whether it be scar tissue, tough, inflexible tissue/nervous system, or just re-training some muscles. Kind of a therapeutic pain, I guess.

After a bit, I could press the bar with free weights, then adding weight. But then I got too aggressive, and started pulling muscles… I’ve laid off anything “heavy” (by heavy, I mean for ME), for a good while, but tonight I felt particularly good, so I decided to try the bench press again.

Even working with 115 lbs on the bench, there is pain. I worked up to it though, but doing lighter weights… When I got to the heavy weight, I would do a couple small movements (maybe 1/8 reps), then a quarter, then third… eventually doing one full rep. Somehow I felt like my muscles benefited from just HOLDING the weight, and I felt with each larger motion I was priming my muscles to handle a bit more stress. I guess is my own type of progression. I’ll note that there is no pain after the workout.

None of this is probably new. I have two basic questions.

  1. When you are dealing with less than healthy joints and muscles, is pain sometimes ok when lifting? Could it be therapeutic or am I fooling myself?

  2. Also, does anyone else use this short rep scheme for a weight you haven’t handled before? For instance, I did the same thing with dips tonight. I started with dips with BW. The next set, I added a weight (holding a 17lb dumbell) and started out with quarter reps, then which each rep going deeper. When, on the next set, I went to BW + 25 lbs I started with small movements, then eased into fuller reps. I really felt like it mitigated the risk of injury, but I can’t remember reading about this here or elsewhere.

You have problems. They don’t seem that severe.

It is not normal to have pain WITH NO WEIGHT that suggests something is wrong.

Does it hurt only when working out or does it hurt afterwards e.g next day, or hurt for a week?

I suggest you look for “magnificent mobility” dvd here on T-Nation, and dig through articles, and search, there are TONNES of articles to do with these matters.

It does not seem too serious but it IS abnormal.

Maybe arthritic … who knows. Not impossible.

Your crazy rep scheme has been done by others but generally isn’t optimal for normal, pain-free people.

I never work through joint pain. I focus on mobility work and stretching.

I never, ever get a client to push through joint pain.

Muscle pain is different. Joint pain says “go see a physio”.

It shouldn’t hurt you at all to lift. Go see a doctor.

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
You have problems. They don’t seem that severe.

It is not normal to have pain WITH NO WEIGHT that suggests something is wrong.

Does it hurt only when working out or does it hurt afterwards e.g next day, or hurt for a week?

I suggest you look for “magnificent mobility” dvd here on T-Nation, and dig through articles, and search, there are TONNES of articles to do with these matters.

It does not seem too serious but it IS abnormal.

Maybe arthritic … who knows. Not impossible.

Your crazy rep scheme has been done by others but generally isn’t optimal for normal, pain-free people.

[/quote]

Thanks for the reply!

Your comments about arthritis are insightful, - I was diagnosed with a type of arthritis in my youth. Now 28, problems started at 9, diagnosed at 13. I’m not convinced that this was a correct diagnosis, hence my hesitation in bringing it up - but I certianly have some arthritis like things going on. I try not to make too big a deal about it, since there are things that can be done, and I’m doing some of them.

Still, better questions would have been - “for people with arthritic joints, is some pain ok? Is this crazy rep scheme a decent protocol for arthritic joints?”

The pain doesn’t last much beyond the movement (plus 30secs maybe).

Thanks for suggesting Magnificent Mobility. I’ve seen it and used some of the exercises recommended by the authors, and seen some results. I think I’ll order it soon (gonna do some more research as you suggest as well). I’ve done a bit of the shoulder tests (failed). I shouldn’t be benching but let ego/fun get in the way.

Cheers,

bhima

[quote]BFBullpup wrote:
It shouldn’t hurt you at all to lift. Go see a doctor.[/quote]

[quote]Sxio wrote:
I never work through joint pain. I focus on mobility work and stretching.

I never, ever get a client to push through joint pain.

Muscle pain is different. Joint pain says “go see a physio”. [/quote]

Sounds good. I’m currently seeing a chiro, who has prescribed some PT. I’m doing it, and it has helped. I thought I could ease into benching but looks like I’ve got a ways to go. Things like - stretching chest, strengthening back, rear delts, rotator cuff, etc are all helping.

It’s a mix of muscle and joint pain/discomfort, I think. In some movements, it may not be joint pain but pressure on the joint. There is a certain amount of loading I have to condition myself to - and I believe that “crazy” rep scheme addresses that. Another advantage I’ve found is that I find it less likely to cause a muscle pull - it feels like I am giving my muscles more time to adjust to the load. It’s kind of a workaround for the unhealthy state of muscles/joints - but I should deal with the underlying problems.

I do have a high threshold for pain, and am a stubborn fool, so I need to be extra careful I’m not fooling myself. Your replies convince me that I am, WRT to the bench press at least. I have modified the way I do it, narrow grip, focusing on triceps, which has helped but not eliminated the problem.

I’ll do some searches on this stuff as well. Much obliged for the replies, guys. I’ll be able to get past this, I’m sure.

Pain is weakness leaving the body. (j/k)