Picture this: you’re in the gym, caffeine coursing through your veins and your best workout starter-song thumping in your ears. You have finished your warm-up and are ready to hit your first heavy set.
You take a deep breath, unrack the weight, and turn heads by slamming the weight back into the rack. Some pain suddenly hit you and caused the adrenaline train to make an unexpected halt.
What goes through your mind at this point? An image of yourself eating ice cream and binge-watching Golden Girls on your couch for your next four months of recovery? Medical bills with enough dollar signs to make United think about letting its customers fly? Well, me too.
But before you hang up the gym shorts, take a step back and evaluate the pain. You’re not a doctor, sure, and I most definitely am not. So, take what I say here with a grain of salt, because it is coming only from my experience and that of others.
But if you’ve been working out for a while, then you have a decent idea of what pains are real injuries and which are just some soreness. I’ll give an example of each from my last few weeks.
After a particularly brutal arm-day a few weeks back, I experienced some pain. I knew that it was because my biceps were still recovering from that beating and were just a little sore, so I pushed through.
This morning, however, I was doing some squats. I was on my second heavy set, about to come up out of the bottom of my third rep, when suddenly I felt something shift in my lower back. I involuntarily dropped the weight on the safeties, stripped the bar, and proceeded to do only leg presses and silly leg curls this week.
So, that’s my quick opinion on this. If things make sense; if you know you’re sore or just have a little pain, it might be okay to push through. But, if something really does seem off, don’t. Take a rest, maybe even a deload week, and let yourself recover. If it persists, see a doctor. Be relentless, but careful.