Aching After Exercise? Leave Time To Recover Or Power Through?
So today you have completed an intense session in the gym or maybe you have just got back from a vigorous run. Mentally you feel great, you know you have pushed your body hard and you feel better for it. You go to bed happy that you have moved one step closer to achieving your fitness goals … Great.
Unfortunately the peak in your muscle soreness is delayed and kicks in about 24 hrs after the exercise session.
You wake up the next morning … uh oh! You feel like you have been clamped down to your bed, you get up (just about!) there is decreased mobility and pain for nearly every movement you make. You know you have pushed your body the day before, just maybe a bit too far.
The big question – You planned a gym session for today though, should you go through with it?
When you are new to exercise muscle soreness that occurs 24-48 hours after exercise is normal, those dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) we are talking about, but if you do push your body beyond the limits no matter how fit you are, there will be some aches and pains afterwards. The usual response you have is rest, and then light to moderate exercise with some stretching to get rid of those aches and pains. A sports massage or foam rolling is also very good to help speed up the removal of soreness and help you recover quicker, as is a cold bath or shower.
This is not always the case though, sometimes there may be a bit more of a problem than just aches and pains so be careful, if it is joint pain and discomfort rather than muscle soreness it is best to get it checked out straight away. The ankle, knee, elbow and wrist joints are not covered by muscle so it shows that there may be a bigger problem than just muscle aches. Also look out for swelling, which is a pretty obvious sign of an injury and shouldn’t be ignored! Ice any especially sore spots.
So the mantra ‘No pain, no gain’ is very motivational and famous but maybe not quite so reliable in some cases. When there is a lot of pain I would generally recommend a period of rest or at least to exercise in a different/moderate way. Swimming is a great way of exercising in such a situation, swimming works so many different muscles and followed by a nice dip in the Jacuzzi or session in the sauna is great for relaxing.
I can’t stress enough the importance of varying your workouts to stay motivated and to keep improving. I’m sorry to say but if you pick up an injury by doing bench press 7 days in a row it’s your own fault. Variety is the spice of life and this applies to your exercising as well, mixing things up constantly keeps you on your toes, having one day on interval training, a circuit day the next etc. Gives you more things to aim for as well as promoting a more healthy overall body, it also gives certain muscles the opportunity to recover whilst you are still exercising.
It is very difficult to reach your fitness goals when your body is at risk of injury so try not to take any unnecessary risks.
Remember that pain is how the body lets us know that a potential problem exists, so listen to your body! Sometimes it’s better to live to fight another day than train when you’re sore.
Committed to Your Health and Vitality,