When beginning anexercise program, it’s important to understand the difference between musclestiffness and muscle soreness. Stiffnessis inevitable; that general achy feeling after a good hard workout is referredto as stiffness, but actual excessive soreness – the kind that lasts for daysand causes extreme pain or avoidance of activities – is the body’s way oftelling a person they’ve gone too far.
Soreness is a resultof microscopic tears that happen during physical activity, and the accompanyingswelling that follows as the body works to repair and rebuild the muscles. These microscopic tears are necessary tobuild muscle and improve strength, but the pain shouldn’t last more than a dayor two.
While there’s a basicpremise of the more effort one puts in, the more they’ll get from it, there arecertain times working harder doesn’t yield any additional benefits to thebody. Just like prescription medicationscan be overdosed on, exercise has dosages and it is possible to overdose.
But if soreness isgood, why should we try to avoid it? Excessive soreness should be avoided as it can be a deterrent not amotivator to continuing a new physical activity. Avid exercisers will strive to reachstiffness, but actual pain or soreness that lasts for days can derail fitnessplans, or even stop a person new to physical activity in their tracks.
To avoid soreness,make sure the body is adequately fueled with proper nutrition and rest to allowfor maximum recovery. It’s alsoimportant to monitor how the body feels after a workout. If the weekly leg or arm workout leavesmuscles aching for days, it’s time to back off on either reps or weightamount.
It’s also important tohydrate and stretch the muscles. Stretching increases blood flow and lengthens the tissues to allow forfaster more efficient repair. And whilecoming out of the gate into a workout program fast and hard might seem like thebest way to get ahead, remember the race is a long one. Setting a steady pace that the body can keepup with long-term is more advisable than a dead sprint into perfection.
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