Decoding Pain: Discomfort V. Dysfunction

Scenario: You are mid WOD. It's rough. You are 7 overhead squats in on your last round. You have 3 left before you go on your run. Cue a numbness in your right thumb and a twinging pain in your wrist and forearm. Do you stop? Or do you suck it up and do your last 3 squats?

Rarely do people elect to not finish a workout. And why would they? CrossFit is designed to push our limits - so working through a little discomfort is just part of the deal - right? ...Well? Yes and no. It is important to know the difference between discomfort and dysfunction.

Discomfort is the result of challenging your physical capacity. It's a natural part of high intensity workouts. Working through your discomfort causes physical adaptation and mental fortitude. Finishing despite it means next time you will be faster and stronger. Discomfort, and learning to deal with it, is good.

Dysfunction on the other hand is trouble. It is the pain signifying technical faults, mobility limitations, and improper muscle firing. The pains of dysfunction are little red flags, which if ignored, lead down the path to injury.

The trouble is, both discomfort and dysfunction can cause pain. Actively listening to your body's signals is the only way to diagnose and handle pain appropriately. When you feel something start to hurt. Take a quick mental second to check in. Is this good pain or bad pain? Is something wrong or do you just need to suck it up? For example, in the scenario above, you should have the awareness to stop yourself before you injure yourself. You might be strong, fast, and fiercely fit, but you're not immune to injury.

There's only one you. Train smart!

There's only one you. Train smart!