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Ryan Healy answers: Should I push through the pain?

Posted by Lara Salahi  June 19, 2013 02:26 PM

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Ryan Healy.jpgRyan Healy is a personal trainer for the Lynch/van Otterloo (LVO) YMCA in Marblehead. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, and earned her BS in Exercise Sports Science from Elon University. Find more posts by her in conjunction with the LVO YMCA at She can be reached at

Q. What should I do when I feel pain while exercising?

A. The first thing we want to establish is if the pain is simply muscle soreness as a result of exercising, muscle fatigue or discomfort that occurs while exercising, or if it’s sharp pain that developed while exercising or shortly after. Muscle soreness, or DOMS, should start to subside after about 72 hours. Muscular fatigue will occur during exercise and is the result of overloading the muscles, and will feel uncomfortable. If the pain is sharp and remains after four days, it could be an injury that’s worth a visit to the doctor.

Exercise will certainly bring on fatigue and muscular discomfort, but it shouldn’t bring about sharp pain. If it does, that could indicate that you’re not ready for that exercise, that form needs to be corrected, or that you had an underlying issue brought out by that exercise. Pain is your body’s signal to you that something you’re doing isn’t right. Listen to it!

Even if your doctor does diagnose you with an injury, there are still numerous ways to work around that injury and stay active. I’ve had countless clients that have signed up for personal training after joint surgery and with creativity and a detailed assessment; I worked around their injury to get them stronger, leaner, and feeling better. If you’re unsure of what alternatives you can do to certain painful exercises, a good personal trainer can help with that. Bench press hurts your shoulder? Well there are plenty of other horizontal pressing movements to pick from that a trainer could help you tease through to see what works, or maybe address a few key points in your technique that will change how you feel.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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