Dealing with Post-Workout Pain
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Dealing with Post-Workout Pain

New exercisers always feel sore after a workout. The old addage, "No pain, no gain!" scares the wits out of them. That's why so many avoid exercise for so long. Why would anyone want to hurt themselves doing something that's supposed to be good for you? It's normal to have some soreness because we break down muscle tissue along and have lactic acid build up in the muscles.It shows up 1 or 2 days afterward  and tames down after 3 or 4 days.You won't feel as much soreness when exercise becomes more regular for you. It goes with the territory! Soreness is part of the package, but pain is not. If you always take it easy, you won't experience the changes in your weight, health, strength, or endurance.
Runners, Bootcamp-ers, and other people who exercise hard experience muscle aches, sore tendons,  muscle knots regularly. Those can really hurt! Although stretching can help, those muscles aren’t always convinced it’s time to relax. Grumpy tendons refuse to tone down their irritation, which can make you miserable. Some of them may be cause for concern. What to do? This is not to be construed as medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only.

Causes of Post-Exercise Pain

Some of the likely causes of pain or soreness are:

  • Over-training/over-use -- You've done too much for too long. The muscles may not have enough time between workouts to recover. You may also cause damage to your muscles and/or tendons. If this is the case, it's time to take a break and re-figure your workouts.
  • Cranking up the workout -- Anytime you tweak up your workout, your body will tell you about it. This should tame down after a week or two. If not, back down a bit. You may be doing too much too soon. Not everyone is the same and you have to take into consideration areas of the body working during the hours you are away from the gym.
  • Doing an exercise differently -- Whenever you try an exercise by doing it differently, i.e. negative training of the biceps/triceps or plie' squats, you are training muscles differently. You are also working stabilizing muscles in a manner they aren't used to. If it's too bothersome, reduce your reps/time and slowly build back up.
  • Doing something new -- You could be a world-class athlete and experience soreness doing another exercise form. Unless it is really demanding, carefully push through. Try the suggestions in the post.
  • Arthritic joints -- Reduce your weight and increase the repetitions to protect joints from further damage. You may need an alternative way to do the same exercise. A few examples would be cycling instead of running on the treadmill or pavement, or a modification of lateral raise to reduce strain on sore shoulders and the neck.
Ways to Relieve Post-Workout Pain

There are ways to tame the ouches with working out. Here are a few to try (Follow the links for each to read reputable resources) :

  1. Myofacial release/Trigger Point Release -- The sheathing on the muscles (myo-facia) sends out pain signals as well as information about tensing and relaxing of the muscles they serve. If they are sore, they feel like you've been burned, bruised, or scraped. This doesn't feel deep into the muscle tissues, but just below the skin because it is. Gentle self-massage, foam rolling, and use of a ball or massage stick can help.
  2. Massage -- Find a reputable massage therapist if these are persistent. You may have deep muscle tension or knots. They can tell you if tissue is inflamed because they are medically trained. These are harder to massage out by yourself. A good one will respect your faith and your wallet.
  3. Analgesics -- these come in the form of topical creams or gels like Tiger Balm, Biofreeze, Aspercreme, and Icy Hot,  and pain relievers like acetominaphin, ibuprofen, aspirin, and sodium naproxin. I personally love Biofreeze. Taking medications should be done sparingly if your doctor thinks it is safe for you to use. Overuse can lead to kidney and liver damage.
  4. Ice/Heat -- The general rule of thumb is to use ice wrapped in a thin towel (to prevent freezing your skin) for 10 minutes the first couple of days. Heat may be used to help loosen muscles and aid the blood flow. 
  5. Compression -- A well-placed ACE bandage my be valuable to help reduce swelling and protect the area from further trauma. This is usually used for damage.
Prevention of Pain is Key

Last, but not least, prevent pain from the beginning! Here are things you can do, or ask someone for help doing:

  • Check your  form -- For example, If you are having knee pain, check your squat and lunge form in the mirror. Your knees should never go over your toes. It is worth the cost of one personal training session to have a personal trainer go through your workout checking your form and making corrections. He or she might surprise you by their suggestions simply because you may not know about what you were doing to yourself accidentally. You don't need to continue with them, if you don't find it necessary.
  • Reduce the time or repetitions -- There are times people feel like they need to do more in one exercise session than they should. Follow the process. 8-12 repetitions for each exercise, 1 to 3 sets. If you are doing HIIT, try 30 seconds work, 60 minutes rest to start, then build up to 60-90 seconds work as your body will tolerate. Don't do HIIT more than twice a week (Some groups will tell you 3, but that was not what we were taught in my HIIT training. Better safe than sorry.)
  • Check your shoes -- Old, well-broken-in shoes will cause foot, ankle, knee, hip, and/or back pain! Check your shoes if these joints hurt and nothing else makes sense. Replace your shoes every 6-9 months to relieve this problem. Hint: none of the other suggestions will relieve the pain.
  • Stretch, Stretch, Stretch! -- if you are skipping your stretch time, you are hurting yourself. Follow a regular stretching program after your cool-down.
  • Compression -- Compression sleeves will help relieve shin splints or elbow pain. They gently protect areas that are prone to overuse. Don't use them without checking with your doctor or allied health professional if you have never used them before.

Working out should be a good, exhausting experience, not a painful one. Drop me a line and let me know how these work for you.

May God bless you!

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