Thursday, June 23, 2011

Post exercise muscle soreness

A friend of mine recently started a new workout routine, using nothing but body weight exercises.   On day two she mentioned to me how sore she was after starting this new program, but she enjoyed it, and the fact that she was sore, encouraged her to continue the routine.  After three days she became so sore she could barely move or walk.  It turns out she finally had to see the Dr. and even had to take a couple of sick days from work.  The Dr. told her it would take about two weeks to recover and there is not much he could do.    

The psychological feeling of muscle soreness.

There is nothing like the feeling of a good workout, but what about the muscle soreness that comes with it.  Some people measure workout routine effectiveness on how sore they get the next day.  Although this may have some validity and provide a certain level of encouragement it can also psychologically deter someone from continuing the program.  Be sure to give your body time to recover, not giving your body enough recovery time could cause some serious damage that will set your fitness goals back.

Why do we get sore?

Post work out muscle soreness also referred to as delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) is a soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs a day or two after exercise.  DOMS is thought to be microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers.  Typically felt after a new exercise program, a change in exercise program or a dramatic increase in duration and intensity of your current routine.  This type of soreness is the body adapting and re-building.  This type of soreness is not the same as soreness felt after an injury, there should be no bruising or swelling.

What are some treatments for muscle soreness after exercise?

Nothing is proven 100 percent effective; age and fitness level also plays a role in recovery time. There are chemicals or so called nutritional powders you can take, but I would avoid them, just let your body recover as naturally as possible; don’t get your body accustomed to chemicals.

Some methods for dealing with post exercise muscle soreness are: 
  • Active Recovery – performing easy low-impact aerobic exercise to increase blood flow after an intense workout routine basically be sure to cool down.
  • Rest and Recover – self explanatory, just wait it out with no special treatment.
  • Sport Massage – this may help increase blood flow.
  • Gentle Stretching – be careful not to cause any tearing.
  • Can you say Yoga?
  • Self-Awareness – listen to your body, know how hard to push it.
  • Warm Up – warm up before an intense session (this is one reason why I usually run before lifting).
Minor muscle soreness should typically not put you on the sideline and after a good warm up you should be ready, but be careful with soreness that keeps you out of the game, just let your body heal itself and adjust to the routine.  Depending on your fitness level, you may not always feel the muscle soreness, so don’t base the effectiveness of your routine on muscle soreness.  When starting a new routine, give it a test run at half speed and work up to it.  This might take a little longer, but remember the story "The Tortoise and the Hare". 

Feel free to contact me.

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