7 Tips on Dealing with Exercise-Induced
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I often get complaints
from clients about being sore. Statements like "I thought exercise was going to
make me feel good, but now I feel worse than ever" are somewhat common with
people who are new to exercising. And there's not too much for me to tell them.
The facts are that if we have any designs on changing our body for the better,
we are going to spend some time being sore. It's inevitable. Fact of life:
there is some pain associated with the ultimate pleasure of being fit.
But that doesn't mean you
have to take it sitting down! If you anticipate, plan, and take the proper
steps, you can minimize your soreness.
I'll get to this in a sec
but, first, let me tell you a little storya very short onethat
might help you out a bit. When I say we all get sore, I mean all. You see, I'm
very sore right now. And I got this way by doing one set of lunges. Yes, that's
right. One set!
I'm not fat and I'm not
out of shape. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm climbing harder than I have in
years and I'm currently a member of the U.S. National Duathlon Team. So by most
people's definition, I'm super fit. However, I've not been doing lunges. Until
yesterday, I hadn't done a single lunge since I finished doing 10,000 of them
over a four-month span last year. So my body's not used to lunges and whenever
you do something physical that you're not used to, you get sore. What this
means is that most of you reading this are going to get soremaybe really,
really sorealong your road to fitness.
But I can help, because
I've been through every level of soreness possible, from the "ahhh, I'm
starting a new program" feeling to "@#&!, I can't walk" misery. Here are
seven ways to mimic the former statement, and avoid the latter.
Embrace the pain. This idea is
going to be foreign to many of you but eventually you're going to learn that a
little soreness means you've embarked on something that is good for you. The
first time, however, you're going to have to show a little faith. Whenever I
switch up my training, I go through an initial period of soreness (like today).
While it's always bothersome, say, when it hurts to take off my shoes, I know
that it's only temporary and that it's an important step along the road to my
goal. So I embrace it. Sure, it hurts. But it hurts in a good way. A great way
even. I love the beginning of a new training cycle because I know that once I
work through the pain I'm going to be fitter than before. In fact, when I
haven't had a period of soreness in a while, I start to feel like a
Anticipate. Remember that I
said I knew I was going to get sore? You are too! So go easy on your first day.
And I mean E-A-S-Y! It's normal to get excited on day 1. You've got a new
package in the mail and visions of you walking down the beach turning heads are
probably dancing in your head. This is great, but keep your wits about you.
You're not going to get that way tomorrow or the next day. Hammering through
your first workout could end up delaying your program two weeks while you
recover from your exuberance. Instead, start slow. Do much less than you feel
like you could. You'll get sore anyway. Next day, push a bit harder. Next day,
a bit harder still. Easing into a program is the best way to make steady
Eat well. The more you
exercise, the better you need to eat. Junk won't fuel your muscles properly.
This is especially true if you are trying to lose weight because you are eating
less than you need to sustain your body. So what you eat becomes vital. The
better you eat, the less sore you'll become. Try to exercise on an empty
stomach and then eat a small snack that is approximately 4 parts carbs to 1
part protein within an hour of finishing your workout. This will greatly help
the recovery process and reduce soreness.
Stretch. After you work out.
The more time you can spend doing extra stretching at the end of your workout
the better you'll recover. Don't stretch your muscles when cold, as you'll risk
injuring them further. An extra 10 minutes after you work out, however, can do
wonders. Also, easy movements and stretches both at night before bed and first
thing in the morning helps your blood circulate better and will also improve
your recovery time.
Massage. You don't have to go
to a masseuse; self-massage is a great tool to aid recovery. The only time you
don't want to massage your muscles is right after you work out because you will
interfere with the natural recovery process. But at any other time, just five
minutes of self-massage can do wonders.
Ice. More on the circulation
themenothing moves blood around like ice. If you've ever watched a locker
interview after a sporting event, you probably noticed that a lot of the
athletes were icing parts of their body. That's because it's one of the
greatest recovery aids we have. Almost all injuries heal quicker if we apply
ice. And soreness is "microtrauma," or slight tears in your muscle tissue.
These are necessary in order to get stronger, and they will heal faster if you
ice them. You can ice any sore body part up to 20 minutes at a time, a few
times throughout the day (if you can stand it).
Work out. Often the last thing
you feel like doing when you're sore but it gets back to the circulation thing.
Working out promotes circulation. Sitting around while you're sore is worse
than working out, even though you probably feel like exercise is the last thing
you should do. What you should do is not work out too hard. It's a good excuse
to be slightly lazy, since you are doing what's called a "recovery workout,"
which is aimed at not breaking down too much muscle tissue. However, if your
legs are sore, you don't have to go easy on your upper body, and vice