Are You Sore Or Is It Something More?
Exercise is a healthy habit to establish but for those new to exercising or starting a new routine, it may be difficult to determine if the resulting soreness is part of the normal spectrum of pain or whether it is a symptom of injury. Exercise routines need to be done with correct alignment, awareness of one’s sensations as they relate to the performed action, and with modification to accommodate previous injuries. Knowing the difference between good and bad pain helps individuals to alter their practice and seek medical attention when necessary.
No Pain, No Gain
The old mantra is fine when seen to create an expectation that there could be muscular soreness after exercise. The good pain is clinically known as “delayed onset muscle soreness” or DOMS. Soreness can be expected to occur within the muscle belly. The muscle can feel tight and tender and sensitivity can spread to muscles attached to the worked muscle or muscle group. Typically, the discomfort lasts from one to two days.
This discomfort will be more pronounced when beginning a new routine or engaging in an unusual activity that your body is not accustomed to. When a new fitness routine is attempted after a sedentary stretch, muscles will be markedly sorer than when the routine becomes established. Adding weight-bearing exercises will put more stress on a muscle and the initial discomfort can be quite pronounced.
Soreness is a good thing. Every time that you exercise, micro tears occur within the muscle fibers as the muscles themselves generate more cells and are remodeled. The muscles adapt to the movement imposed upon them and future episodes of the exercise result in less discomfort of a shorter duration. The tender tightness experienced is a result of slight and normal inflammation and the additional blood and nutrients going into the cells to feed and rework the tissue. It should be expected.
It Doesn’t Feel Right
There are a number of different types of injury that can occur from any type of physical movement but are often triggered when exercises are performed incorrectly or not modified for existing conditions. Daniel Baumstark, CHT is a licensed physical therapist and owner of PhysioDC, a sports medicine clinic. He notes the most frequent forms of bad pain seen from patients:
“The most common type of bad pain that I see in the clinic involves joint pain. When pain occurs in a joint (such as the knee) rather than in the muscle (the quadriceps), it is the body trying to tell us that something is not right. Do not try to work through joint pain while working out. If it occurs each time that you exercise you should have it checked out by your doctor. If your pain is sudden and sharp, stop whatever you are doing and have it assessed.”
Other pain that is radicular in nature, or shoots to different areas is also not normal pain. Pressure on or trauma to nerves, often spinal in origin, can result in this shooting sensation of pain.
If the pain doesn’t lessen, the area throbs and movement is impeded, seek medical attention. Sprains, ruptures and fractures often occur with new high-impact activities or in those that may becoming frail.
The Good Pain Checklist
In general, this is a checklist of good pain. Always listen to your body and if something feels “off” don’t do it or have a physician, physical therapist or specialized trainer modify the activity:
- Pain recedes in a few days
- Pain is less each time the activity is performed
- Daily activities can be done without extra exertion
- Discomfort is localized to the area of worked muscle
- Discomfort is highest in the muscle belly of the worked muscle(s)
- Pain is not throbbing or shooting, but can be described as more of a dull ache
The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise helps to increase the rate of metabolism and maintain a good level of muscle mass and proper physical mobility. Muscles burns calories at a different rate than fat cells and requires more energy from the body to complete the activity. If the skeleton was a puppet, muscles pull the strings for movement. Without adequate muscle function, the body fails to perform as desired and daily activities become harder to complete with the onset of age. Regular exercise and movement helps to keep many diseases at bay and allows individuals to have fuller, more energetic lives. The Mayo Clinic fully supports the benefits of exercise.
- Control weight
- Combat health conditions and disease
- Improve overall mood
- Increase energy
- Promote better sleep
- Enhance sex drive
- People have fun and socialize
The mild discomfort of starting a new program should in no way deter individuals from feeling better and living more joyful and productive lives. Take measures to develop body awareness when beginning a new routine or when returning to exercising from a sedentary period as a result of choice or injury.
Have Fun and Exercise
NASA scientists found that the best exercise for returning astronauts was to be found using a trampoline. The body goes from 2 to 4 times normal gravitation to zero gravity repeatedly as users “play” on the bellicon. The body is engaged at every level and minimizes the impact of “re-entry.” The type of exercise used on the bellicon is a new level of rebounding. Power-sculpting, core, ab and arm workouts are only some of the many activities that can be performed with a smile. Take your exercise routine to new heights with bellicon.
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