What is “Normal” Training Pain in the Gym?

A man is being helped by a physical therapist.

You do some pull-ups and your shoulders hurt. So what? No pain no gain, right? Well…maybe.
Pull-ups, squats, running, jumping, throwing, bicep curls, or bench press – this applies to all of that.

When you push your body to get better, aches and pains will naturally occur. It’s part of the process. There is a breaking down before building up. But sometimes the pain isn’t part of the process. Sometimes that pain is a precursor or indicator of injury.

How do I know if my training pain is normal?
Here’s a great guide to know:

Normal Pain
1. Lasts less than 36 Hours

2. Random (does not occur every time you do a certain movement ie: pull-ups)
3. Does Not Limit ROM
4. 3/10 Pain or Less

Abnormal Pain
1. Lasts more than 36 Hours

2. Regular (occurs most times you perform a certain movement at a certain weight or volume)
3. Limits ROM
4. 4/10 Pain or Greater

*ROM = Range of Motion (Ability to move fully)

If your pain exhibits any of the qualities of abnormal pain, that means it’s abnormal.

If pain or ROM limitations are moderate to severe, we recommend directly seeking out a Physical Therapist or MD before trying the techniques described below.

But do I have to see a PT or MD if pain isn’t severe? Should I just rest?

– You don’t have to see a medical professional – but sometimes having someone who knows what they’re doing look at your specific issue and guide you through it can give you extra confidence that what you’re doing will help you get better.

– Rest is usually not the answer (at least not completely). When athletes take time to rest, they are slowly decreasing in strength. When they get back to the thing that aggravates them, nothing has changed except that they are now slightly weaker. Pain is likely to return.

An intentional mobility, stability, and strength plan is usually the answer.
Think about the movement you are doing. What can you do to improve your mobility, stability, and strength for that movement? Do that. And do it consistently. For at least two months.

If you’re looking for more guidance on your specific situation, shoot me an email at ross@bereadypt.com.

If you would like to come see one of the members of our team in Nashville or Brentwood, TN, schedule by pushing the button below.

A man in a green t - shirt smiles in front of a gym.

Dr. Ross Gentry


"This is Physical Therapy for Athletes. We relieve pain and ensure you're ready to do what you love"

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