Paradigm Shift: It Has to Hurt to Work, Doesn't It?

By: Kathleen Gramzay Friday May 13, 2016 comments

A predominant myth in our culture is "No pain-no gain."  In addition to athletics, it permeates beliefs with regard to healing.

I say "no pain-no gain" is a bald-faced lie.  

In sports or working out, you can argue the merits of pushing the body through its limits to increase its capacity for greater strength or endurance. But why is that belief so common when it comes to healing?

Therapies that initiate pain or discomfort first and then provide relief, fuel the underlying assumption that some kind of pain is necessary in order to effect healing. 

Physical therapy, traditional chiropractic, medical or deep tissue massage are some examples. There's pain or a sound (crack or pop) that tells you it's working or it worked, and then you expect the results.

For many years in Massage there were two options - Swedish or Deep Tissue. If you wanted to be an effective therapist Deep Tissue was what you did. It's also what you ask for as a client if you want to get "the knots" out. It was a given that the pressure had to be deep, it was likely to be uncomfortable, you may well be sore after, but you'd feel great in a day or two. 

I had mixed feelings from my own introduction. My instructor was demonstrating a stroke down my back to the class. His pressure was too much for me and my whole body winced and tightened up against the pain.  I told him it was too much. He either didn't hear me or wasn't listening.  When he got to that spot again by pure instinct, I swung my arm out and smacked him in the leg. I picked my face up and emphatically stated: "that's too hard! I thought massage was supposed to feel good."   From my experience, I didn't know that Deep Tissue could be done differently and not be painful. 

The no pain-no gain mindset is deeply rooted in sports. In working with many professional athletes over the course of my practice, I had to address it.  I told them upfront that Kinessage® worked differently, they would think I wasn't doing anything, and to trust their trainer's referral so that they could mentally relax enough in the session to find out.  They, and many massage and physical therapists I teach are conditioned that harder is better and more pressure equals more results.  

One of my greatest joys is to observe the surprise on their faces when they experience the release of pain or tension and more fluid movement without discomfort for the first time. The "aha" is so much fun to see. It busts the no pain-no gain belief wide open.

To get beyond "no pain, no gain" and get a different result, you have to be open to the possibility that healing can happen without pain or some volatility to activate it.  

Healing is a restoration, a return to your inherent natural state of health.  It's innate.  It's quiet. It's subtle.  You might not have any of the cues you're conditioned to telling your mind that it's working.

However, if you pay attention to and partner with your body, the results can be miraculous - GAIN WITHOUT PAIN.

To your great health and well-being,



My mission with this blog is to provide information that supports holistic pain relief and self-care that encompasses all of who you are - body, mind, and Spirit.

About the Author: Kathleen Gramzay

Kathleen Gramzay, BCTMB is Body/Mind Performance Expert, 20-yr Board Certified Massage Therapist, and Developer of Kinessage® Self Care and Mindful Resilience.  Her mission is to empower people to release their stress, chronic tension & pain to live more joyful, productive and healthy lives.   If you would like to learn more about Kinessage® Self-Care or the Mindful Resilience programs, contact Kathleen