Getting hurt is part of having a body, especially if you’re one of those crazy people who likes to actually use yours! They key is to be smart about it when it happens so you can come back quickly and as strong as ever.
The problem is there’s a lot of stupidness in the fitness world when it comes to pain and injury. “No pain, no gain!” might look great on the wall of high school weight room, but it’s terrible advice when you’ve got a busted shoulder.
In this episode, GMB’s Chief Pain Whisperer Jarlo Ilano is joined by Lead Trainer Rose Calucchia to help unstupid the fitness world about injury and pain. They’ll help you understand what your pain is trying to tell you, when to rest vs. get back at it, and the not-so-secret key to recovery that everyone tries to ignore.
- Overcoming Chronic Pain with Exercise and Pain Management Techniques
- Shoulder Pain: Shoulder Exercises & Movements for Pain Relief
- Don’t Let Back Pain Hold You Back: Here’s How to Overcome It
- Overcome Knee Pain: Exercises and Solutions for Crunchy Knees
- So You Just Got Hurt. Now What?
Transcript of Dealing With Injuries
Jarlo: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the GMB podcast. God Made Butter is what GMB stands for. I’m here with my good friend and lead trainer for GMB, Rose Calucchia, because you pronounce the H in Calucchia.
Jarlo: Yes, and I am Jarlo Ilano. I’m one of the co-founders of GMB. I’m one of the guys that steers this ship. And we’re going to talk today about injuries, dealing with injuries. This is something that’s super common, we get from all our clients. Either they’re worried about the particular injuries they have and they’re working through our programs, or they’re interested in doing another program with us and they don’t know if they can, or something happened during the course. They were doing our stuff, and then something else happened. Maybe they were running around, playing with their kids and they fell down, or other stuff. Pain is ubiquitous. Pain is ubiquitous. The common stat is that 80% of us experience some kind of low back pain in our lives. That’s essentially everyone.
Jarlo: That’s essentially everyone, and that’s just low back pain, but I don’t know if anyone that I’ve talked to in any activity that hasn’t had to deal with any type of pain, us included. Me and Rose were talking before this podcast. She’s had a lot of stuff. I mean, your wrist has been bugging you for a long time, and you do acro, you do handstand work, you do all these things. You don’t just stop, right? You don’t just stop. I’m the same way, I do all of my stuff, martial arts, I train, I do all these things.
Jarlo: I’m dealing … My big toe hurts, I jammed my finger three months ago, my right AC joint, right, doesn’t mean I stop doing stuff. But it also means I’ve got to be smart about what I’m doing, and so that’s a big part of what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to outline a few things, and then answer some direct questions that we’ve had from people in emails, on socials, all that stuff. I think one of the most important things to talk about is get a little bit of an overview of what pain is, pain, muscular skeletal pain in particular, and what that is and what the difference between getting hurt, being injured, acute pain versus chronic pain.
Jarlo: And a lot of this, and we’ll have it in our show notes, but I wrote an article on our site, it’s very simple, GMB.io/pain, it’s my compendium of a lot of the current pain science and all these things I’ve had over the years. But one of the things we have to talk about is acute versus chronic pain. Acute pain is very obvious, right? You fell down, you banged your elbow, and that shit hurts, right? Anything, that’s acute pain. The definition of acute versus chronic, the textbook definition, is anything that lasts longer than 12 weeks, is considered chronic pain.
Jarlo: Because theoretically, all the tissues that have been damages, even if it’s bone … Bone usually heals in eight weeks, eight, 10 weeks, unless it’s very complicated, very bad fracture. Even in that respect, even in a fracture, you break a bone, should be pretty much healed up in 12 weeks. You sprain your ankle, you hurt a tendon, right? All of these -itises, tendonitis, shoulder tendonitis and all these things that seem to last longer than 12 weeks, there’s a reason. There’s a reason, but those are very complex reasons, so that’s chronic pain.
Jarlo: So, if we just break those two up, the easiest thing to talk about is acute pain where you know something happened, right? Again, you fell, something hit you, you sprain an ankle. The primary components of why you’re feeling pain is that something happened, right? If you didn’t have that, if you didn’t have pain, and there’s conditions where people don’t have pain, then you would mess yourself up even more, right? The whole point of pain in our body, acute pain, is that so you get off of that thing that you just hurt so you don’t make it worse. That’s the whole purpose of acute pain. There’s tissue damage, there’s all of these things, and your body responds by making it painful so you stop using it, you stop putting weight on it. You don’t make things worse. Then it sends blood and all that stuff that’s swelling, and inflammation, to make it even more harder to make … Sorry, to hurt more. Right?
Rose: Okay, so wait. I’m going to pause you for one second, because I feel like what you’re saying is really, really important. So, if I’m training and all of a sudden I do something weird, I twist a certain way and I start to feel pain, that’s the moment I stop.
Jarlo: Oh, yeah, man. So, that’s interesting-
Rose: I just wanted to say that, just wanted to be clear about it, because there’s a lot of questions about that.
Jarlo: No, I think that’s super interesting. I think that’s super interesting, because the way I’m talking about it, that’s really common sense to me, but there’s two ways to look at it. You know you fell down and you hit your elbow, you know it, and you fell down and you’re like, “Crap.” You know you shouldn’t be … Now you need to hold that and not move it, so that’s distinct, and this happens to me all the fricking time, and it sucks, and I remember saying it. I thought I even texted you about it one time, I was squatting, right? I squat.
Jarlo: I’m doing my front squats, it’s usual, right? My third set, something was wonky, “Ah, my mid-back feels a little weird. Ah, it’s fine. I’ll stretch it out, I’ll do another set.” And then fucked myself up, man. How many times … It’s just shitty. I should have stopped. Because that’s what it is, even if it’s a little cramp, it’s a muscle thing and it starts tightening up, your body is telling you that something happened. Whether it was something major or it was just a really little thing, your body and your brain is going to react to it, and it’s going to spasm up, because it thinks something happened.
Jarlo: That’s another thing, too. I didn’t fracture my spine, I didn’t, but the body sometimes either … It’s either zero or 100, right? It’s sort of like it’s hurt or it’s not hurt, right? This is a very complex topic, but that’s why some people have this chronic pain for years and years, because their switch is so sensitive.
Jarlo: But anyway, I knew it. I was like, “Ah, I’ll just do a little stretching,” and it did feel better. But what’s happening is your body will cramp that stuff up, it acts like everything is a trauma.
Jarlo: Yeah, I should have stopped, but how many times … I know there’s people listening. How many times do you just keep going?
Rose: I think everybody does it, and I hear it in classes too with my clients where they’ll do something and I’ll see them touch their shoulder or move their wrist, and I’m like, “Are you okay?”
Rose: And they’re like, “Oh, it just felt a little weird.”
Rose: And I’m like, “Is it pain?”
Rose: And they’re like, “Eh, it’s not that bad. I can keep going.”
Rose: And that’s the moment where you’re like, “Wait, let’s hang on a second.”
Jarlo: Right, and that’s another nuance, too. It’s like your body responds and pain isn’t necessarily that it’s all messed up, you broke something. Yes it is, but again, it’s what I said earlier, pain also makes your body have a response, and so that’s a good one. Especially back pain, and yeah, back and neck pain, spinal pain. A lot of the pain we have is reactive to a perception of injury. There’s not necessarily tissue damage injury that it’s a straight correlation with the whole thing, “My disc is torn,” or whatever.
Rose: “My nerve is pinched.”
Jarlo: Right, “My nerve is pinched.” And it actually doesn’t really mean a lot. This is very classic thing. You look at MRIs, you look at two of them, and you look, “Man, look at that degenerative disc,” or, “Look at that bulge. I bet you that person is in a lot of pain.” And then you look at another one and, “Oh, that looks really good. The spaces between the spine is good. The disc outline, margin is good. That person is probably fine.” The majority of times, you can’t tell. That person that you thought, “Oh, they’re probably in a lot of pain-”
Rose: They’re fine.
Jarlo: They’re fine. You see this other one, “Oh, they’re all right.” They have this intractable chronic pain for years and years. So, it’s really important in the case of this kind of chronic pain, or pain that’s been dealing with, to not rely on those images and stuff.
Jarlo: Again, that’s different with acute stuff. If you see a fracture, pretty sure you’ll be in a little bit of pain, right? But this is interesting, this is why it’s really hard to talk too, about all these things, because it’s very relatable to what you’re doing.
Jarlo: Right? And so we’re not saying if you have any kind of pain at all, stop doing what you’re doing, because that’s not it, too. We’re saying you have some acute pain, you’re doing all this stuff, maybe you should chill out for a few hours or a day.
Rose: Right. If you weren’t in pain and you’re doing stuff and pain shows up, maybe stop. That’s probably the best idea.
Jarlo: Maybe stop, maybe stop for a little bit, and we’ll talk a little bit more about sort of, yeah, this step-by-step process. But another thing is, is realizing that pain is emotional. We’re not saying pain is all in your head, but we’re saying everything associated with that pain is necessarily emotional. It sucks. It sucks.
Rose: Yeah, it’s awful.
Jarlo: It sucks whether you’re dealing with something for a couple of days or a week, or whether you’re dealing with something for months and years, and we all fit into that category at some point in our lives. If you don’t, well God bless you, right? But especially for us, and us as we’re in a fitness world. And everyone listening that’s trying to feel better, move better, get better, get stronger, whatever, you’re going to encounter these things, because shit happens. It’s just the way it is.
Rose: It’s just part of it, yeah.
Jarlo: It’s just part of it. And I know, Rose, you want to talk a little bit about … Okay, so we’re talking about all this. When do you see a doctor, medical doctor, emergency room, versus going to see your physical therapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, even your personal trainer that maybe knows how to do a few things? When do you know that? Well, one of the main things is super obvious. If you’re bleeding out of your ears, you need to go see a doctor, right? But another thing is if you have pain, since we’re talking about pain, that you don’t really know what happened. There was no obvious traumatic cause. For example-
Rose: Right, like you woke up one morning and you have back pain out of nowhere.
Jarlo: Yeah, out of nowhere, and it’s not like, “Oh …” And you’ll have it. It’s sort of this intuitive thing where you’re like, “Man, I slept wrong, because my muscle is kind of weird,” with this sort of ache that you’re like, “What?” And it’s unusual, right? You’ve been sleeping in your same bed, you had a normal day before, right? You didn’t eat anything funny, none of this stuff. All of the variables were fine, but then you wake up and you’re like, “What is this?” Right? And we don’t need to go into it too much, but there are what they call non-muscular skeletal causes of pain, like organ stuff, disease things.
Jarlo: Again, this is really a low percentage, but it’s high-risk. It’s stuff where you need to go and get it checked out. And so it’s always easy to say, “Oh, yeah, I always see the doctor,” but we know we’re not going to do that. We know we’re not going to do that, because we’ve all went to the doctor for something and they just say, “Oh, you’re fine. Here’s a pamphlet.” But there’s also stuff where … And I’ve had it, because I treated patients for lots of years, and not to have all these kind of dire things, but there’s pancreatic cancers, there’s all this stuff, tumors. It’s real. It’s real. And we’re not saying you need to kind of Google everything and discover-
Rose: Don’t go down that road. Don’t go down there.
Jarlo: Don’t go to WebMD and discover you have cancer. But there’s stuff that … It’s actually pretty intuitive, it’s pretty intuitive. If you don’t know the cause of it, you can’t guess at it. You should probably go to see the doctor.
Rose: Okay, so when do you see a physio, then?
Jarlo: Yeah, so with seeing a physical therapist or a chiropractor or other kind of muscular-skeletal therapist, we can flip it up. You know you hurt it, you were doing some exercise, you were doing some dips, “Oh, man, my shoulder hurt,” right? You gave it a few days rest, you’re doing stuff, you’re trying to work through it, and it hasn’t improved, right? If you have to go, “Ah, I think it’s a little bit better,” it’s not better. It’s not better.
Jarlo: My whole thing when I was talking to patients was within two or three weeks you’re doing stuff and it doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not going to get better on its own. Or if it is, it’s going to take a fricking long time to get better on its own. And then that’s when you can go ahead and … If you have great insurance and you can bypass going to see your MD, or you can just call their office, and they’re like, “Yeah, here, go see your regular PT,” or, “Go see our PT.” That’s a good one.
Rose: Cool. Physical therapists are when we know we did something, we know we have something muscular, we know we tweaked something, we did something and now we’re hurting. But if we wake up and we’re in pain or just kind of out of nowhere something comes up, then it’s a better idea to go see the doctor.
Jarlo: Right, and I think with this also, too, depends on your history, if you are active, right, you know these things about your body. You know it. Either you’ve dealt with them before or you’ve done all this stuff. There’s another thing when we’re going through school, and I’ve actually had a few patients, and this is no offense to our friends listening in the southern states, especially women, but there’s this thing they call the Southern Belle Syndrome. Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you heard this?
Rose: I have not heard of this.
Jarlo: Basically, it’s very sexist, but it’s also true, is because there’s people that … And it’s probably nobody that’s listening here, or maybe it is, maybe you’re just starting out, that haven’t done thing before, they haven’t been very active, they haven’t done sports, right? They’re not used to having some pain or some hurt in their body, and so it’s not that they overreact, it’s just brand-damn-new, and they call it the Southern Belle.
Jarlo: They’re sheltered, they’re doing all these things. This is actually true. This probably fits some clients we’ve had, where they were used to a certain activity, but then they start doing this locomotion stuff, they start doing all these things that are..
Rose: Totally different.
Jarlo: … The whole, “Muscles I’ve never used before,” thing.
Jarlo: Right? And then the pain is just, “What is that?” Right? That’s sort of an extreme example of that, so yeah, it’s interesting though.
Rose: We do get questions about that a lot, actually, write-ins about … Especially with elements or a locomotion program where movements like Monkey and Frogger where you’re in a deep squat for prolonged periods of time. That’s not a position that we’re normally in in our regular lives, especially for longer periods of time, and people will be like, “I feel things happening in my legs. Is that normal?”
Jarlo: Right, right.
Rose: Because we don’t normally feel that.
Jarlo: Right. There’s that, and there’s the flip kind of more extreme-ish example of that is what you and I were talking about with the trainer that you know at where you work at the gym, where they were trying to do these new things that you were teaching them and they just did way too much of it.
Rose: They just powered through it.
Jarlo: They just powered through it.
Rose: They’re like, “Oh, just do 10 minutes at a time.”
Jarlo: And so there’s the other opposite. These people are very fit, they train as a profession, they do all kinds of other stuff, but they don’t do these things and they’re like, “Ah, this is easy. I can do this.”
Rose: Right, “It looks so easy. I should be able to do this, no problem.” Well, if you’re not in that position for prolonged periods of time and then you put yourself in it, you might hurt afterwards if you don’t be careful.
Jarlo: Right. And this goes back to that original question of how do you know if the pain is a really bad thing and it’s more than just something you can deal with, just look at the variables that happened before this pain happened.
Jarlo: Right? Were you doing anything … This is one of my … We always take a patient history like, “Anything unusual in the last couple weeks?” Right? Even if it’s not just like, “Oh, yeah, I started exercising different, or I did …” Sometimes, “Are you not sleeping as well?” Right? “Have you been on a diet?” That’s another thing too. People don’t realize that. You go on a diet, even if it’s just decreased calorie intake, that matters, that’s a change.
Rose: Right, or any kind of change, restriction.
Jarlo: Any kind of change.
Jarlo: So, that’s a huge thing, too, in determining whether you need to go see a doctor or if this pain is just something out of the ordinary. It’s like, look at all the variables that happened before.
Rose: Right. Stress response, too, is a huge one.
Rose: If you’re in a stressed out state, you’re going to be more likely to potentially feel pain or injure yourself. I know that’s true for me. I mean, even some of my old, chronic injuries when I get stressed out, I don’t even have to do anything.
Rose: It’ll just start bothering me –
Jarlo: Stress is massive, and this is the whole part of especially the newer pain science in the last couple decades. It’s not saying that, “All the pain is in your head. Don’t think about it.” Right? No, it’s saying that there’s this very strong interrelationship between what’s happening in the tissues themselves, whether there’s damage, whether there’s not, what kind of inflammatory cycle you’re in. Sometimes I have inflammation. So, that’s another thing, inflammation is good.
Jarlo: It’s good in the first few days.
Rose: Right, it’s the healthy respond.
Jarlo: Right, healthy response. It’s a healthy … You need it to happen. The blood flow goes in there, it stops you from making it worse. It’s when it continues and it’s chronic, right, and does all that stuff. But there’s also, again, your stress response, your anxiety about it. It’s not the cause of your pain, but it’s a very big contributor to whether this pain is manageable, right, or whether it is just going to straight-up keep you at home because you can’t do anything.
Jarlo: So, let’s give a little bit more kind of actionable things.
Jarlo: And one of the things is, we always answer for our clients in emails and stuff, and even in person, they got injured. Now what? Now what do you do? What do I do? Do I just work through it? Do I go, and if I hurt my shoulder, does that mean I just go on the bike?
Rose: Do lower body, do lower body stretch.
Jarlo: Do lower body, right? Do the other side. Yeah, there’s good reasons for that. But let’s talk a … This is something we alluded to earlier. Your body is going to respond to it in a certain way, whether it’s a major injury or not. It’s kind of an on and off switch. When I was squatting, I know I didn’t break my spine. I did not fracture my spine.
Jarlo: Right? But the muscles started cramping up as if, as if it happened, right? And I should have just stopped, put everything away and just chilled out, right? That’s what you got to do. You fall down, you hurt something, or you even get a tweak and you’re like, “Ah, that …” You feel it. You feel it cramping up.
Rose: Sorry, dog barking issue on my side.
Jarlo: Well, anyway, that’s what the chilling out is. It’s a systemic thing, your body is going to react in a way that it’s both good and bad. It’s good because in that moment, that particular moment, you have to deal with it. It’s bad if that continues on for weeks and weeks. And that’s something we really want to make sure doesn’t happen, because the best way to get out of chronic pain is to actually not get into chronic pain in the first place.
Rose: Right. And so how do you avoid that?
Jarlo: How do you avoid that? Well, one of the worst things to do-
Rose: By not doing anything, right?
Jarlo: Right. One of the worst things to do is to power through it just like what we said, “Oh, it’s fine. I’m just going to power through it.” Because you could be making things worse, but also even if you don’t make things worse, say physically, meaning at the tissue level you’re creating more trauma, you could be making things worse with how your brain and nervous system reacts to it. Because now it’s like, “Oh, this thing isn’t going away, so I’m going to continue to have this output of muscle ache, muscle spasm,” so there’s two things there. You could be making it worse objectively, “That tear is getting bigger,” right?
Jarlo: Or whatever. And then there’s also the thing of how your body’s response to it, and so you’re going to create more of a problem. So, that doesn’t mean, “Oh, I got to stop doing things for three weeks, don’t move, complete bedrest,” that’s wrong too. That’s wrong too. But it’s like you said, “I hurt my right side, so I’m just going to do leg extensions on my left side.” No, it’s a systemic thing. If you hurt yourself, you have some pain, take the rest of that day off at least. Take it off, man. Chill out. And probably the next day, too. Maybe you can start walking, maybe you can start doing things that get some blood flow. That’s good, that’s when you start going. We’re not saying complete bed rest, we’re just saying common sense, chill out on it for a little bit, right?
Jarlo: If you are sick, even if you’re sick with a cold or a mild flu or something, you should not be working out. It’s the same thing if you hurt yourself. Why are you working out? Why are you working out? Why do you want to do that? If you think it’s going to be because you’re going to help make it better, that’s not true, so go ahead. But if you’re working out because you have it in your head that, “Oh, I’ve got to keep working out. I got to-”
Rose: “I’m going to lose my gains, man.”
Jarlo: “I’m going to lose my gains. I got to suck it up.” Well, that’s completely wrong. That’s completely wrong. Even if you are a professional athlete, is that the right thing to do? And then you sideline yourself for a couple of games. No, that’s lose money, right?
Jarlo: Even that, and I’m pretty sure 99% of us here are not professional athletes. Even if you are a fitness pro, fitness professional and doing stuff, you have to take care of yourself. And that extra workout one day is not going to negate all your gains, and it could possibly affect you for months.
Rose: I was just going to say, the thing that I also want to communicate is that this is hard for all of us. If people are listening and they’re like, “Oh, but it’s really, really hard for me to make that call,” it is for all of us. I struggle with that too, sometimes, where I’m like, “Oh, how does my shoulder feel? No, it’s pretty good. I’m feeling a little under the weather, but I’m not totally sick.” I struggle with that, too. It’s hard. It’s really hard to sometimes decipher what’s going on, but usually when in doubt, skip the day.
Jarlo: Skip the day.
Rose: I mean, it’s really … You can actually cause yourself to have to sit out for longer if you keep working on it.
Rose: You could buy yourself some time in taking a day off.
Jarlo: That’s absolutely it. There’s two things. First of all, it’s not going to make or break you. Second of all, the consequences could be way worse than the benefits of having that extra day, right? So, with that, the next part is, “Okay, how do I know when I start training again?” So, that we need to be really more specific. So, what do you mean by start training again? Meaning go back to exactly what you were doing? Right? That’s not the next day. No way. “How do I know when I start training again,” meaning, “When can I start and gradually build up again?” Right? And that is actually sooner than you think. After that chilling out for a day or two, you can get back into it, and you should. You actually should. It’s much better to get moving again and do stuff, and that will help you. Now, notice we’re very nuanced about that, and it’s not like, “Jump into it. Oh, you’ll be fine. No pain, no gain.” That’s the other extreme, versus the other extreme of, “Lay in your bed, don’t do nothing.”
Jarlo: Right? How could either of those things be good, right?
Jarlo: And so here’s a little bit of a rubric for how you know when you should get back into it. So, it’s not no pain … And again, even it’s really not no pain, no gain, because there’s going to be a little bit of pain, but let’s talk about a baseline of pain, right? So, you say it’s your knee, you hurt your knee, you tweaked it.
Rose: Let’s get a real specific example.
Rose: Let’s say I started Elements three weeks ago, one of our programs, and I didn’t have any knee problems before I started, but I’ve been doing Elements for three weeks and I’m starting to feel some stuff going on in my knee. What do I do?
Jarlo: Oh, that’s a good one. Okay, so you took a day or two off because you tweaked it, you go back to it, right? You say you have a little bit of pain right now, you figure out what your baseline is, so on a scale of one to 10, that’s a very easy thing. Scale of one to 10, one, probably no pain at all, 10, worst pain, you’ve got to go to a doctor, right?
Jarlo: See where you are there. If you are at a five or a six or a seven, right, probably need another day off or so, right? If you’re around let’s just say six, six and above, because this is really subjective, but if you’re around a two to three to four, maybe five, this is where you kind of have to figure out for yourself where you’re at, and that’s your baseline. Say you’re a three out of four out of pain … A three out of 10 out of pain and you get started, and you do their stuff. Let’s say you’re working on Elements and the workout usually takes you about 30 minutes, right, and you usually do a couple minutes of the Bear, right? You do your warmups, you do all this stuff. I want you to cut it in half. You can do half of what you did before, or less, right? You’re ready
Rose: So, I’m supposed to work on my locomotion for 15 minutes, I’m going to do seven and a half.
Jarlo: You’re going to do seven and a half or you’re going to do five, whatever, but you’re already going to have that in your head, “I’m going to do half or less of what I usually do,” so that’s the first thing. The next thing is you look at your baseline and you’re like, “Ah, I’m about three out of 10 right now. My knee feels achy, but it’ll feel good to move maybe.” Okay? That’s your baseline. If it stays the same or gets better, awesome. Do your seven and a half minutes. If you feel good, let’s stop there. Stop there.
Rose: Don’t keep going.
Jarlo: Don’t keep going, so that’s one. Or you do it and it creeps up maybe to four, maybe into five, but it comes down, but you’re still around that thing and you’re like, “Okay, it’s good. That’s fine, actually. It’s good.” You go do the seven minutes, and then you stop. Or you’re doing the stuff, you’re doing the Bear, you’re doing your Frogger, whatever, you’re doing your locomotion, and it feels good for about a minute, two minutes, and then bang, it goes up to six, seven. You’re like, “Oh, man, it’s sharp,” right? You shake it out, you try again, and then bam, you stop there. It doesn’t matter, you stop there, and you try again tomorrow.
Rose: Okay, question.
Jarlo: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Rose: Question before we go on about this. So, say I take my days off, I go back and my pain level’s at a two, three, it stays pretty consistent through the workout, I’m good, next day I wake up, it’s at a seven.
Jarlo: Right, and this is why we said you got to do half, because half is just a reasonable thing, or less, and even you feel … Because this happens all the time, you feel good, you feel good. You’re like, “Oh, I’m going to keep going,” and then that doesn’t take into account because you don’t know how you’re going to feel the next day. You don’t know how you’re going to feel a few hours later, because sometimes that happens the next day. That’s my thing of over the years I always tell my patients, “Do half,” right? I could say do a third, it’s arbitrary, but it’s basically don’t do what you
Rose: Don’t do as much.
Jarlo: Don’t do what you think you can do, because it’s very easy to stop once the pain increases as you’re doing your exercises and your workout. That makes sense, “Yeah, I’ll stop.” It’s very hard to stop and it doesn’t seem like you should when everything feels okay, but you need to. You need to, because you don’t know how you’re going to feel the next day. Okay, so with that case, you do, you’re staying about three or four, you stopped at that seven minutes, the next day your pain is a seven. Okay, maybe you chill out the day, but actually you could probably start again and see if it helps, because sometimes it does. But you cut that even more, you cut that in half again. So, you were supposed to do seven and a half minutes …
Jarlo: Or, you were supposed to do 15 minutes, so you did seven and a half, but then you got more pain the next day, so you cut it down to three and you try again. That’s very systematic. Odds are, you’re probably okay, because sometimes that seven out of 10 pain is just a reaction. It’s just a reaction. So, this is the heart of what they call in the literature in pain science graded exercise activity, but this is kind of built in to … If you have been through our programs and you go through our programs, it’s built in to our method when we talk about how your rating of exertion is. We talk about your rating of your technique and quality. It’s you’re grading yourself within the session to always be in this nice, optimal state, right?
Jarlo: This is what we rail against, the mentality of no pain, no gain thing. Yes, you’re going to have to exert effort and do all these things, but you will want to be mindful of are you in that sweet spot, right? Are you in that sweet spot of discomfort to progress? But you’re not past that point where it’s making it worse, right? So, that’s huge. I think this a lot, we can repeat this again and again, the mindfulness isn’t just a cliché quote that’s happening all the time, “Oh, you got to be mindful, you got to be this.” It’s very real, and it’s very helpful, and it’s very important to progress and also keep you safe and able to continue to exercise. You have to be very aware of what you’re doing, right?
Rose: And being able to modify as needed. Say, our Elements program we do, most of our programs, it’s times intervals instead of sets and reps, but maybe five minutes is too long.
Rose: And that’s okay to change it.
Jarlo: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And we talk about this all the time, all the time, whenever we start. And of course, if it says five minutes on the page, right, on the program, you want to do it. Of course you want to do it.
Rose: We all want to do it.
Jarlo: We all want to do it, and you should if you can. You should if you can, but you have to be very honest with yourself. Can you really do it? Most of the time, yes, right? But some days are different than others, and you shouldn’t push through, because that’s not helpful.
Rose: And if you were going into it already knowing you have a joint that had a chronic injury, or you’re coming back from an injury-
Jarlo: Right, then you have to be even more mindful.
Rose: Right, exactly. Exactly.
Jarlo: So, that’s the nuance and the kind of heuristic for, “Okay, when can I start training again?” Well, this is what it is, and we just described actually pretty exactly what we recommend in our programs. And even if you’re not doing it on our programs, you’re doing something else that’s exactly what I would recommend, you want to get back into it, you know what you’ve done before, do half or less. Or, you’re in a little bit of pain right now, you stay at that baseline of pain maybe a little bit higher, not much higher, but if you’re doing that, then you’re fine. If it goes up as you do it, then you need to stop, go and do something else.
Jarlo: And we’re not saying stop working out, we’re saying do something else where you can maintain that baseline, and then you stop and you wait for the next day, and then you see what happens and then you repeat that process. And then that is graded exercise activity, graded movement activity for dealing with pain, and that’s something that’s in therapy, that’s something in rehab, something with even probably a lot of good fitness professionals out there, is doing it. That’s realistic stuff, and that’s what we’re saying. We’re not saying don’t do anything, right? We’re not saying don’t do anything, and we’re not saying no pain, no gain, because that’s smart. We’re being smart here. You want to be smart for yourself too, right?
Rose: Right. And I wanted to give one more example, because our example of Elements is pretty straightforward, so I’m going to use myself as an example real quick. Because I injured my wrist back in January of this past year, and I’ve consulted with Jarlo a lot over the course of this injury, about how to deal with it. And my graded exercise activity looked a little bit differently, because I was training handstands, so obviously even after a couple weeks of laying off my hand, I couldn’t go back to handstands, right?
Rose: That was just going to be too much. But I could go back to doing bear walks, I could go back to doing pulling exercises, so any kind of hanging, chin-ups, rings work I could go back in doing anything, and then later came parallettes where I could go back to working on parallettes. It just took a long
Jarlo: Oh, yeah, I remember that.
Rose: … A lot longer to be able to have my hand completely flat and take all my body weight, so I just wanted to give another example that’s a little bit more abstract maybe for how to come back from an injury that’s a little bigger.
Jarlo: And that reminds me, a lot of this stuff you have to realize that some injuries, they seem like they take forever to heal.
Jarlo: They will heal, but they take months, especially with things like wrists and toes and these kind of small joints. I was wrestling, this was a couple years ago. I was wrestling in my classes and was just rolling with this guy, and he jammed my wrist back, normal stuff. It wasn’t on purpose. And I was like, “Ah, that’s sore. This sucks.” Right? A couple days. And, man, that took months, it took months. I could not put … And I knew I didn’t pressure, I knew all these things and all this stuff, and I couldn’t do my normal thing, so I had to figure out what … It didn’t mean I stopped exercising, right? But I have to do all these things. And when I say it took months to get better, I mean 100%. I’m talking about I don’t feel any pain with it at all, right?
Jarlo: Right. And so that’s what we’re also saying when people say, “Oh, can I get back into training when I feel this way or I feel this way?” And you don’t want to think about it as in you have to straight-up 100% better, because actually it might not happen. It might not, and that’s not allistic, because things heal and things get better. But one of the sayings for pain is, the number one determinant of whether you’re going to have pain in a joint, or your back, or your ankle, or whatever is previous injury.
Jarlo: Right? The number one thing, “Are you going to sprain your ankle? Well, did you sprain your ankle before?” Right?
Rose: And you might do it again.
Jarlo: “And I might do it again.” And that’s because, again, it’s the body’s response, and now everything’s kind of turned up, because that’s why it’s super important to give your body good inputs, good inputs for moving and exercise. That’s why you have to do these things. My friend, Todd Hargrove, Better Movement, he had this great book, he called it good news, you have to give your body good news, right? And good news means moving in a way that’s not painful or is very minimal, and discomfort is there and you can do more. Bad news is when you get back into it and it feels the same and it’s shitty, right? So, you want to give your body good news. I like that a lot, and that’s the nuance. You should be doing things. That’s what working through it really should mean, that you’re being mindful and you’re doing these things.
Rose: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jarlo: Right? Right. So, yeah, if you have aches and pains from … Let’s flip it again, and you’re just getting the exercise, right, or you’re getting back into it.
Rose: Taking time off and coming back.
Jarlo: Right, or now you’re doing something so new. You’re used to lifting weights, you’re used to doing classes, and you’re used to spinning, you’re used to doing all of these things, but you’re not used to these locomotion exercises. You’re not used to these things where you’re twisting one way as you go up and down, right? You haven’t been involved in dance or martial arts or other performing things, but you’re interested in doing these things now. Well, tell you what, you’re going to be sore, but it’s fully new, that whole, “I’m using muscles I never used before,” kind of thing.
Jarlo: That’s true, but that’s also why we go look at your baseline of how you feel. Do half of what you think you should do even if you feel good, because you’ve got to see what you do the next morning, then you adjust from there. You have to continually adjust, you have to continually reassess. You have to. That’s longevity. We want to be doing this for the rest of our lives, because it makes the rest of our lives better. We’re not doing this for a couple years for whatever … Or a couple months. We’re not doing this because we’re on a 30-day challenge, right? “We’re in a 30-day squat challenge,” right? I hate that stuff. It’s stupid. What does that even do for you, right? “I’m on a 30-day whole foods thing.” Well, that’s great. You mean you’re going to … What’s happening at the end of 30 days, you’re going to die? There is no 30 days. There’s the rest of our lives, man. That’s what I don’t get. Maybe it’s because we’re older, right?
Jarlo: And maybe when you’re younger, you think that way. I just turned 45, and I’ll tell you what, I’m doing great. I’m doing great. There was a thing, right, in one of my recent videos and we put them on the page, and the comments was like, “Oh, Jarlo’s been doing this 30-plus years,” or whatever, and then there was a comment. The guy was like, “He doesn’t even look 30 years old,” or whatever.
Rose: All right.
Jarlo: Yeah, man. I’m 45, man. Right? But I get it. It’s probably only in the last 10 years or so that I’ve had kind of this mentality of, oh, the rest of my life. I used to be that, “Go hard, go home.” I spent hours, right?
Jarlo: Sometimes I still do, but I’m smart about it.
Rose: Yeah, and I think that your comment about constantly reassessing is where it’s at, and Ryan always says, “Go through your warmup.”
Rose: “Use your warmup to see where you’re at for the day.”
Jarlo: That’s huge.
Rose: “And adjust as needed.”
Rose: So, if I’m going through my warmup and my wrist doesn’t feel awesome, it feels pretty achy, or it’s just not warm, I feel like I can’t get it moving well, maybe I’m not going to do the handstand workout that I had planned. Maybe I’m going to do something else instead, because there’s still stuff I can do, and I don’t have to do that specific workout.
Jarlo: Exactly, exactly. There’s still stuff you can do, and you should do it, or something … It just feels like hell. And it feels like hell, then maybe you should just stop. Tomorrow’s another day, man.
Jarlo: It’s a real thing.
Rose: Or, I feel exhausted, so maybe I shouldn’t work out today.
Jarlo: Right. Maybe you shouldn’t work out today. Oh, that’s blasphemy, “Maybe I shouldn’t work out today.” I hope we gave you all some really kind of concrete examples. It’s really easy to be vague, because it’s a very complex topic, but you’ll see that a lot of this stuff is baked into how we train our clients and how we have in our programs and how we actually recommend things for people that even if they’re not. Because it’s borne out of my experience with patients for 20 years, and it’s borne out of Ryan’s and Andy’s interaction with their clients and teaching students, and with Rose and Chris and a lot of our other trainers out there. We have experience working with people, and this is what we’ve found to be best.
Jarlo: Here’s the thing, if you’re one of our clients and you’re working through the programs and you’re concerned about maybe you have some injuries, maybe you’re concerned about things that you’ve had in the past, give us a shout, firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond to everything, right? And if you’re not our client or you’re interested in our programs, go ahead and do that too. Rose will answer it personally.
Rose: Seriously, I will.
Jarlo: Right. Well, Rose, and there’s four other people on staff, so there’s five of you guys, four of them are trainers, right?
Rose: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jarlo: And so, again, they’ve had lots of experience, years. We are nine years now of GMB, the years of GMB, but also years on their own of training clients and things like that.
Rose: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, we get a lot of questions every day about aches and pains and, “Is this program appropriate for me? Can I do it? Should I stop? What should I do?” So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
Jarlo: Awesome. So, with those questions, anything that you’re interested in too, also for more nuanced take and a little bit more detailed description, gmb.io/pain for a pain article that will help a bunch. We also have all of these body part articles, back, shoulder, knee. That’s something we spent a lot of time with, and I’m really happy with actually, with how they turned out and how helpful they’ve been to a lot of people over the years, so check that out.
Jarlo: And again, this is something that we all deal with, and yes, there can be some really significant changes to your life because of it, but there’s a way of out of it. I mean, not to be all kind of mushy or all that, but you don’t have to be in pain your whole life. There’s ways out of it. It’s not saying you’re going to be completely pain-free, because I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it happens, because as we live life, we’re going to have some of that pain and ache. We’re just saying it doesn’t have to be suffering, right?
Jarlo: There’s a difference between having pain and suffering.
Jarlo: Well, thank you all for listening.
Rose: Thanks, Jarlo.
Jarlo: Rose, anything else you want to add?
Rose: No, this is really good. I feel like it’s a hard topic to talk about because there is so many different levels to it, but I thought that your advice about if you’re doing something and you feel pain happen, stop. No, really, stop. Don’t try to keep going. Stop and –
Jarlo: We’ve all made that mistake.
Rose: … Reevaluate the next day, see how you feel. I think that’s huge, and if you have chronic pain, to get some help with that, from a physical therapist or a chiro or somebody to figure out what’s going on so that you don’t have to live with that. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there with pain.
Jarlo: We’ve all been there. There’s lots of really good people out there no matter the discipline, so you can say physical therapist, you can say chiropractor, osteopath, massage therapist, acupuncturist. They all can be really good, especially if they’re following the very good advances in pain science education in, again, the last 15, 20 years. There’s a whole evidence-based pain community, and it’s very good. And again, they have nuance. It’s not like, “Oh, just do this, or just do that,” right? That’s a red flag of maybe you shouldn’t be working with that person if they’re just so dogmatic.
Jarlo: Right? But it’s a cross-discipline. You don’t have to see a PT, or you don’t have to see a chiro, or you don’t have to see this or that. There’s so much good people across all disciplines now. Well, thank you very much. Thanks, Rose, for the conversation.
Rose: Yeah. This was great, Jarlo. And remember to email us if you have any questions at all.
Jarlo: Howdy@gmb.io. Thank you.
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