I never liked the concept of pushing through or “forcing”, but there have been (and still are) moments in my flexibility training where I know I was stuck and I needed to go that extra mile. The pain was either mental (I was afraid) or physical (I was uncomfortable). There are only two scenarios where I would suggest to suck it up and “push past pain”:
1- you have a mental block
2- you’re sore, not injured
In the first scenario, you feel that either you reached your limit or you’re afraid to go further. Both cases are very normal and understandable, that’s also why not everyone train contortion lol. Not everyone needs to push their limits, go further or sit on their head. And it’s totally fine. But maybe you’re like me, you wanted to achieve something bigger yet started in disbelief, then got surprised of the possibilities presented after some time and now you’re eager to keep going. To accomplish something most people wouldn’t even consider, you’ll need to train your mind as well as your body, because your mind is what will make it happen. In fact, a flexible body is not enough, a strong mind is needed to succeed.
A trained mind learns responsible courage, dedication, commitment and discipline. Teach your mind to let go of negative thoughts like “I’m dying, I’m breaking, I’m gonna snap” because even if those are protective thoughts, they are detrimental to your training – also I’m assuming you’re not crazy and are accustomed to some sort of method, gradually increasing the difficulty of exercises and such. One thing is training fearlessly, another one is training dumb.
The other scenario is when you feel sore and unable to get your body anywhere close to your usual “best”. Definitely we all have days like that, where the thought of stretching is the last thing on your mind or just for one reason or another, you know it’s just gonna suck to get in any position. On those days you have to decide what approach you’re gonna have and stick to it. If you trained too many days in a row, take a day off. Training too much and too often is NEVER gonna make you better, unless you’re 12 yo. To metabolize soreness and recover, you need rest. But if you know you’re supposed to train, do it and don’t change your mind halfway through it, no matter how bad it is, make it count. You’re probably going to avoid the very hard exercises, but you’ll do all the other stuff. Make sure you warm up extremely good and even longer than usual, then get into your stretches slowly, but push past that soreness, or with better word choice, work thorough it. If you don’t, every day will be a good excuse to not train and “take it easy”. In fact, if I’d train on good days, it would be probably a few times a month lol. The days when you’re sore and training are the days that will build your character and tenacity, plus you’ll still improve, because with time bad days won’t be so bad also because you learned how to deal with them.
The hard part is, knowing the difference between soreness (a muscle sensation of stiffness due to training or other reasons that goes away in few days) and injury. I won’t ever say “push past injury”. That’s a recipe for disaster. An injury is a different pain, sometimes sharp or dull, localized, that doesn’t go away in few days and if underestimated can potentially get worse and worse. In that case, do not push past pain, ask a specialist (to find out causes and if there are weaknesses to be addressed), work around it, massage it and stretch LIGHTLY till things don’t get better.
That’s it for now…
Happy training 🙂