In the past I’ve talked about how strongmanism is in large part about pain tolerance.
For example, one tip from there is “In learning to bend nails, once you get to the point where its starts to hurt and you want to quit, that’s where you need to double your efforts and crush it. That’s the point were the nail WILL bend.”
Anyway I recently stumbled across this article that spoke of my main mentor in the strongman art, Dennis Rogers.
Bill Amonette of the University of Houston–Clear Lake found that Rogers could recruit an abnormally high number of muscle fibers. But was this ability because of a freak genetic mutation? Another possibility, which Rogers thinks is more likely, is the way he processes pain when he strains those muscles.
What if, instead of superpowered muscles, Rogers has a normal—though extremely well exercised—body, and his abilities arise because he can withstand more pain than most mere mortals? He claims that he does feel pain and is actually scared of dentists. In fact, during one stunt in which he held back four souped-up Harley motorbikes with straps, he bit down so hard he split a tooth from top to bottom. Rather than taking his chances at the dentist, he reached into his mouth, clamped his viselike fingertips onto the broken tooth, and extracted it, root and all.
Rogers reasons that, unlike in the dentist’s office—where he has no control over the pain that is inflicted on him—he has direct executive control over pain that he inflicts on himself. “I know it’s coming, I have an idea of what to expect and I can decide to ignore it,” he says. Confronted with severe pain, most people fear that they will damage their body permanently if they persist, so they stop well before they are in real danger, Rogers explains. He does not stop and only rarely gets seriously hurt.
Maybe Rogers’s muscle cells are normal, and he experiences pain as most of us do but chooses to disregard it when he feels in command. If so, he has become strong not because he was born on a planet with a red sun like Superman or was trained in the Danger Room of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters like an X-Man but because, when he has a job to do, he doesn’t care that it hurts.
It’s funny to me how the average person perceives a strongman. They always tend to think it is born talent, some weird freak, rather than realizing the time and effort out in, and the fact that anyone can do it.
But my main point in quoting this is to showcase how we can have power over pain. And not just pain, like your muscles screaming at you, but at other times too.
Part of training is in learning the differentiation between pain of damage, and the temporary discomfort or pain that comes with doing some movement. Yet, it is the confusion between these, that often leaves people with the former when they thought it was the latter. That differentiation comes with experience, though there are ways to shortcutting your understanding of this feedback process. Pain is a signal and you want to learn to listen to it.
Plus, if pain is under our control to any degree, that means it can be under our control to a larger degree, once practiced. That’s one of the ideas behind the Pain Free Movement Maximizer Hypnosis.
Pain is not some static thing. Instead it is a process. And as a process there is a lot you can do with it.