Monday, May 14, 2012

Preventing Post-Exercise Soreness

For those who have recently started working out, the excitement of exercise is sometimes trumped by the muscle pain you feel the next morning. I have had several readers ask me the infamous question: "How do I get rid of post-workout muscle soreness?"

There are two types of muscle pain, and they should be treated differently. There is the pain you feel during or immediately after your workout. That pain is either your muscles telling you they have done some hard work, or your body telling you you might need to slow down. Then there is the more popular pain; the one that slaps you in the face when you wake up the next morning (or sometimes, even a couple of days later). This type of pain is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

DOMS is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers when you have really pushed your body hard, or when you do something new and different. As you keep doing the same exercises more, your body gets used to it and you start to notice less pain. However, if you switch up your exercise routines a lot, you don't give your body adequate time to get too used to anything. This is not a bad thing because to stay fit and lose weight, you usually need to switch up your exercise routine consistently. 

So it's a Catch-22, right? If you don't work hard, or if you do the same things over and over, you'll end up not getting sore. However, you need to work hard and switch your exercise up to reach your goals. So what do you do? The good news is that there are steps you can take to lessen or prevent the pain.

Warm Up: It sounds cliché, but warming up is really important to protect your muscles and joints, and to avoid getting too sore after your workout. What is the best way to warm up? Do something very similar to what you would be doing during your workout, but just do it slower and with less force for about 5 to 10 minutes. For example, if you'd be running, walk for a few minutes first. If you'd be kickboxing, start with very light punches and kicks. It is important to use the same muscles you'd be using so that the body gets used to the motion.

Cool down: This is the same theory as warming up. It gives your body a chance to slow down and get back into the regular motion. Also do it for about 5 to 10 minutes, possibly longer if you worked out for a couple of hours.

Stretch: You have heard this a lot, but stretching help reduce the pain as it is actually part of the cool down process, allowing your muscles to relax. It is like a mini-massage to ease muscle tension. When you workout, you put a lot of tension on your muscles, and so stretching just helps remove some of that tension. You've probably noticed some things called foam rollers at the gym. These are great to help relieve muscle tension. If you have the money and time to get a massage, go for that instead :)

Ease into a routine: Most folks that want to lose weight are tempted to just jump in and do as much as they could possibly do. However, it is important to give your muscles time to get used to activity, especially if you're been pretty sedentary. If you hurt yourself, you can't work out anyway, right? 

However, even with these, if your are experiencing pain that lasts longer than usual, the procedure is to ice it, and then call a doctor. Contrary to popular belief, indirect ice (frozen veggies, etc.) works better on muscle pain than heat.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

Photo credit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...