“Pain is weakness leaving the body.” When my friend joined the U.S. Marine Corps he repeated this saying over and over again anytime he spied someone complaining about being sore or in pain. I took this saying to heart.
I began to operate with the mentality that if an exercise caused pain, that just meant that I was pushing hard enough. The concept of “no pain, no gain” seems to especially prevalent in the athletic world with many athletes stating that they expect pain in order to achieve success.
However, pain is not always a good thing. And although finding ones limits and pushing past them is desirable there is always a risk. I learned this in high school.
I began running track in my junior year of high school. By my senior year I was competing in the 4×200 relay, the 50 meter hurdles, the high jump, and the long jump. During one meet I prepared for my hurdles event. My hip was hurting that day but I paid it no mind. I would just have to push through it.
I stretched, took my place at the starting line, settled into the blocks, pressed into the blocks, and answered the sound of the gun with a push. Immediately I knew something was wrong. My hip just didn’t feel quite right. I made it over the first hurdle but mis-stepped. As I pushed to go over the second hurdle my hip gave out and I crashed into the hurdle standard and landed on my ankle. I heard a loud cracking noise and I fell to the ground.
My ankle throbbed with pain. I limped out of the race, grabbed some ice for my ankle, and prepared for my 4×200 relay. I knew that I had injured myself but I just told myself that I could block out the pain and race regardless.
I ran the 4×200, my ankle throbbing with every step. On the final stretch I could feel my foot rolling. I handed off my baton to my teammate and collapsed to the ground. I had to be carried out of the meet. I later saw a doctor and had my ankle scanned. It turns out that I ripped muscles throughout my ankle and chipped several pieces of bone which are still floating around in my ankle.
In the end I wish I had listened to my body and not run that day. I wish I had not thought I could push through the pain. As a result of my mistake I had to stop running track and have not been able to run quite right ever since.
Is pain really “weakness leaving the body?” Or is pain just pain?