I was doing a private appointment with a client, David. He had recently injured himself and was beginning to recover. (David loves to exercise. He thrives on it.)

However, he hadn’t fully recovered, but decided to go full out at the gym anyway, only to reinjure himself.

So he asked me what I would recommend to avoid further injury.

There was a long pause as I thought about how best to answer his question.

It might be helpful to provide a little more background information on David. He likes to exercise hard and push himself. Push himself while talking to a friend. Push himself while listening to music.

He learned to ignore how he feels while exercising and to just go for it no matter what. He believes in the “No Pain, No Gain” myth.

In this state of full-blast-ahead, he doesn’t feel when he is pushing past the limits of his joints and muscles. He just keeps going. And is chronically re-injuring himself.

Why isn’t this “No Pain, No Gain” strategy working for him?

  • He isn’t giving himself time to fully recover from his injury.
  • He hasn’t learned how to work his muscles where he feels the muscle burn without straining his muscles and joints.
  • He tends to build only the smaller muscles and not the larger ones.

Where are the largest, bulkiest muscles in the human body? In our pinky finger? Obviously not. In our big toe? No.

It’s the muscles in, and that connect around, our pelvis.

He primarily builds his biceps, his triceps, his deltoids – the muscles of his arms and shoulders. And it makes sense to want and have strong arms and shoulders. But then he neglects the most powerful muscles in his body – the muscles around his center and this makes him more prone to injury.

You may be nodding, thinking you have heard of this “strengthening the core”. But when you hear the word “core”, what are you thinking of? The abdominal muscles? Yes, they are part of our center. But they are only one part.

We also have our lower back muscles, buttock muscles, and the muscles that attach our pelvis to our rib cage. These are also part of our “core”. Or to use a word that doesn’t make you think just about the abdominal muscles – our “center”.

Except for the abdominals, most people ignore these core muscles when exercising.

When the powerful muscles in our center are doing the brunt of the work, it allows us to be able to achieve strength where we need it the most when we need it. While freeing up where we have smaller muscles and need to be able to do fine motor skills, like in our hands and our neck and head area. So that we maximize our flexibility and freedom to move and still have strength.

So the next time you are at the gym, think about how you can strengthen your center more. Generate the effort primarily from your center while you exercise. You’ll have more freedom in your arms and legs and be gentle on your joints.

You will also benefit from using one of Anat Baniel’s Nine Essentials, Subtlety (also known as Gentle), which is pretty much the opposite of the “No Pain, No Gain” tactic.

Anat writes, “Subtlety – reduce the force with which you move, think, and act. Developing greater sensitivity will enhance your brain’s ability to perceive the finest of differences.”

So along with allowing injuries to fully heal, protecting joints, building the muscles in the center, and practicing subtlety (gentleness) in your exercise routine, you can make the gains and avoid the pain.


Lara Gillease, President & Founder of Lara’s Integrative Movement, teaches adults and children how to do new things and move with greater ease and freedom in one-on-one NeuroMovement Lessons since 2000. She teaches an online home program that guides people over 40 to have movement freedom in their day-to-day life called ‘Move Free’. She is a Trainer in the ABM NeuroMovement International Training Programs for certifying new NeuroMovement Teachers. For more info, email her at: info@integrativemovement.com.

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