Dealing with Post Workout Discomfort… the right way!

Posted: July 30, 2013 in Fitness
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The feeling is not uncommon. Your legs ache, your arms feel extra heavy, and let’s not get into how sore your glutes are. Clearly, you’ve been through a challenging workout in the last twenty-four hours. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder that we are human after all, and although we might have played Superman when we were doing those squats earlier, the real effects are about to occur now.

This is a phenomenon known as “delayed onset muscle soreness”. There are many reason behind why it occurs, but let’s talk today about how we can better deal with this temporary source of pain.  The answer is not to avoid it by working out lighter either. Usually, it’s a sign that things are repairing themselves in your body, and potentially growing. Use this soreness as your badge of honor for the day!

We live in a culture that loves to pop a pill for everything. Advil has even marketed itself as an effective form of pain relief for muscle soreness in its recent advertisements. Unless you have done some serious damage and likely need medical attention, I would not go the painkiller route. Highly esteemed pharmacist and nutritionist Dr. Hickey made it very clear on a recent radio broadcast that although painkillers remove the issue in the short term, they can actually weaken the joint that they are directed to. Plus, if we took these pills for any small thing, we’d end up building up a tolerance to these items, and perhaps having a harmful level of their bio-accumulated ingredients in your body.

What do we do then? Though there have been those that put down stretching and argued against it, I would have to say it is a necessity. If you don’t stretch, the body remains very tight, and the range of motion in each joint is lessened. That means that any activity the falls outside of this small range will create either soreness or injury. I try to stretch any muscle that I will be working, both before and after exercise. I would advise you to do a light warm-up before the first stretch of your day. It may reduce the soreness levels that you have.

Stretching is not the only weapon we have against soreness. I love the foam roller! They are cheap, easy, and effective. The key to foam rolling is to focus on areas that were worked (or are going to be) in your workout, as well as any spots that are problematic frequently. Go slow on the roller and don’t shift your weight quickly from side to side. Most people report the best results when thy either stop on the “hot spot” or slowly slide through it.

Once in a while, a trip to the masseuse is a nice treat that can help lower soreness levels greatly. I also make monthly trips to chiropractor (covered by nearly all insurances and $20) to ensure that my spine is properly aligned, and that my posture is where it needs to be. When everything is in balance here, we are in prime shape for all physical activity. One more item of note would be an “electro stim” unit which is about $30 on amazon. Apply the pads to the sore spot and let it twitch away.

I hope this was helpful in avoiding hitting the pills, and finding productive ways to ease your soreness. Until next time, be well and stay safe!

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