When Exercising Is a "Pain"
Tue, 03/19/2013 - 2:10pm | Amy Flynn, MS
Many people who are new to an exercise program or who are increasing the intensity of their workouts feel a variety of aches and pains. What’s normal? When do you need to seek treatment or tone down your exercise program? As an exercise physiologist at Good Shepherd’s Optimal Fitness gym, I can provide a few guidelines. But whenever you are in doubt about pain or an injury, see your physician.
However, overtraining or overuse of muscles (such as strength training the same muscle group twice within a 24 hour period), may cause more severe pain and indicate an injury, which can affect both beginners and experienced exercisers. Generally, pain associated with DOMS peaks 48 hours after exercise and then gradually subsides. This is a sign of adaptation and should disappear a few days after you do the exercise. The more you continue to exercise, the more your muscles will adapt.
Prevention and Healing
After a few weeks you will begin to feel what normal DOMS is for you. A general ache that isn't in a specific spot and only bothers you when you move in a certain way is most likely due to DOMS.
Taking time off occasionally allows the muscle cells to rebuild and is the best way to alleviate aches and pains. If you decide to exercise while experiencing DOMS, you may need to work at a lower intensity to accommodate a temporary loss in strength.
Icing the muscle and anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can help alleviate pain. Alternating light aerobic exercise with strength training serves to stimulate circulation and aids in muscle relaxation and endorphin production.
Nutrition also plays a role: Certain processed foods, caffeine and alcohol may increase pain. So keep a food journal to identify factors that may trigger pain.
Playing It Safe
If your pain increases or changes at any time, or something doesn’t look or feel quite right, seek medical treatment. Swelling, irritation or redness may be signs of injury. Listen to your body – it can teach you a lot!