That Hurts

A burn during a set and soreness afterwards is as common as a pigeon in a park. While the term good pain may be a classic oxymoron, there certainly are normal pains associated with the weight-lifting game. Of course, some types of pain are not normal and shouldn't be taken lightly. In fact, unless you've been doing it a long while, the old bromide of "No pain, no gain" is generally considered passé and counterproductive.

Here's the bottom line: Any sharp and shooting pain is bad, no matter where it occurs. Such an acute sensation is indicative of nerve pain and should send a warning that's attended to immediately. Pain that occurs in any of your joints (shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle) is also a red flag. As we've stressed all along, be mindful of your form and of the amount of weight that you are lifting.

If your form is not sound, you are putting additional stress on your joints simply because you are putting your body in a position that it doesn't want to be in. This means that even if you were performing the exercise with just your body weight, you would experience some pain and discomfort. Add a 15- to 45-pound barbell to the equation, and you're bound to aggravate the situation. It sounds so simple, but time and time again we see people lifting heavy weights with chronically injured joints. Determination clearly has a place in the gym, but when it's misapplied it's a sure way to court serious injury.

When Deidre was a competitive powerlifter, she hurt her left knee while squatting. It was swollen and painful for a few weeks. Not only did she have to stop squatting, she was forced to decrease the weight that she deadlifted. Her coach, John Gengo, couldn't figure out what happened until he watched videotape of her squatting. What he discovered was that her knees jutted out way beyond her toes instead of tracking directly over her toes as we advise in Chapter 15, "Below the Waist." This misalignment put significant stress on the knee joint. Once they changed her stance, she was able to return to squatting pain-free without a recurrence of the problem.

A burning sensation is normal during a challenging set of weight lifting, and soreness over the next couple of days is not unusual. However, any sharp or shooting pain while lifting is a red flag to stop immediately. If this occurs, never try to fight through such pain. Review your form to make sure you're not doing anything wrong. If your form isn't at fault, try another exercise that works the same body part.

Weight a Minute

A burning sensation is normal during a challenging set of weight lifting, and soreness over the next couple of days is not unusual. However, any sharp or shooting pain while lifting is a red flag to stop immediately. If this occurs, never try to fight through such pain. Review your form to make sure you're not doing anything wrong. If your form isn't at fault, try another exercise that works the same body part.

In Chapter 32, "Injuries Nag," we'll outline the most common injuries that you'll find in the gym. For now, let's look at a couple of broad categories and discuss how to best treat them.

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