No Pain, No Gain - True or False?


How do you feel about the phase “No Pain No Gain”? Do you believe this to be true?


A new client who had never had a massage treatment before asked when he was on the table “is this going to hurt?” and another said what she liked about my treatments was that she didn’t feel battered and beaten up post treatment, but still got a lot of benefit and the results she was looking for.


We use this phrase a lot, “no pain, no gain” especially when exercising or getting a massage, but is it true and what evidence do we have to back it up?


If this was true then surely we would only feel like we had achieved something if we had to go through or put ourselves through pain to get it. That seems a bit odd to me. Don’t get me wrong I have used it in the past and definitely when I have experienced pain in a treatment, usually said to myself whilst scrunching up my face wishing I had something to bite on, but the therapist can’t see me as I am faced down. Those were also the days when I would keep my mouth shut allowing the pain inflicted on me to continue half believing it would help and half because didn’t want to upset the person inflicting the pain!! I am glad to say that my people pleasing and keeping my mouth shut even when things were not working for me are over, but that’s maybe for another blog.


In the case of exercising we do need to put some effort in if we want to increase muscle tone , lose weight or increase our heart rate, but we shouldn’t be aiming for that point of pain before we stop or continue to push through it thinking it is helpful. If the body is in pain why inflict more on it? If you had a bruise and someone poked it you wouldn’t be too happy about it and I believe this is how the body feels too. There is such a thing as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from exercising, but this should dissipate within a few days and it does feel different to long term pain that we may experience. Basically if we are doing something that is causing us pain or aggravating the symptoms we already have – STOP.


When I work with clients and my hands sense an area of discomfort or pain the last thing it wants me to do is stick in an elbow or increase the pressure. Great results can be achieved by working with the body in a more gentle way, taking a less is more approach. I am not saying that a treatment with me will be free of some discomfort (I have a lot of clients that would argue with me if I said otherwise), but I work with a pain threshold level of no more than 6/10, once you start getting higher than that then the body may go into defense mechanism, muscles can spasm or contract and we want the body to feel as relaxed as possible when working with it to get the best results for you.


So please don’t go into a massage thinking you have to be beaten up to feel the benefit, a painful massage is not a measure of how effective it is. Start listening to your body and become aware of how it feels when you are being treated, speak up if it is too painful because not only is it not good, but feedback is very helpful and a different approach can be adopted. You live in your body, so you are the best person to know what is going on inside of it.



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