I tend to have swelling and weight gain of 3-5 pounds aftrer a really hard cycling or running workout? Is this normal or a sign that something is wrong? If it is normal is there anything to do to counteract this? Any info would be appreciated.
If you have ever begun a new weight-training program, then found it difficult to walk down stairs for the following few days, you are familiar with the uncomfortable side effects of muscle strengthening. After weight training, a muscle swells, its strength is decreased, its range of motion is limited and it hurts. Studies are inconclusive as to whether muscle swelling is actually the cause of these other symptoms.
When a muscle lifts loads that it is unaccustomed to, the stress causes tiny tears in its fibers. These tears are a natural part of building stronger muscles because when the damage is repaired, the muscle fibers are rebuilt stronger than before. Almost immediately after exercise, white blood cells rush into the muscle to clear up the debris from the muscle damage, producing prostaglandins as a byproduct. Prostaglandins are a hormone-like substance that cause pain and swelling. Along with white blood cells, fluids carrying other nutrients and enzymes rush into the muscle to support the rebuilding process. The extra fluids packed into the muscle also contribute to swelling.
A muscle contraction has two parts: the concentric, or "positive" phase (i.e. the "up" phase of a biceps curl) and the eccentric, or "negative" phase (i.e. the "down" phase of a biceps curl). Multiple studies have demonstrated that eccentric contractions cause the most muscle damage, pain and swelling because the muscle must lengthen as it contracts. Although weight training usually causes muscle soreness, the cumulative stress of eccentric contractions in weight-bearing endurance activities, such as running a marathon, can also cause muscle damage and swelling.
Muscles begin to swell about two hours after exercise. Swelling peaks on the fourth day, then gradually subsides, returning to normal seven to eleven days after a workout. Researchers at the Department of Physiology at Monash University in Australia found that swelling was not only greater after eccentric contractions than concentric training, but it also took longer to subside.
Some athletes use anti-inflammatory drugs, massage or active recovery to relieve post-exercise muscle swelling and soreness. Anti-inflammatories may reduce swelling, but a Canadian study found that ibuprofen didn't reduce post-exercise soreness. An Australian study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that post-exercise massage reduced swelling and soreness. However, a similar study from the University of Virginia published in the same journal found no such reduction in swelling after a massage. Although many athletes insist that active recovery, or light exercise a few days after a workout, increases blood flow and reduces swelling, studies have yet to confirm it.
Not all pain causes gain. Athletes must learn to tell the difference between swelling associated with recovery and swelling caused by injury. Acute injury causes sharp pain during exercise and immediate swelling. Swelling from injury is usually localized around a bone or joint. Chronic injuries may not cause appreciable swelling, but pain will be greater during exercise than in the following days. If you suspect injury, seek medical advice and use rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE) to relieve the swelling.
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Sounds like you have exactly what he described: microtears causing swelling and soreness. This is normal. It means you are stressing your body beyond its comfort zone, and it is building and responding. Make sure to take appropriate rest days.
I have gotten mild swelling before, but I have not specifcally noticed weight gain (but my weight also varies a lot day to do). NSAIDs (ibuprofen, etc) help a little, but I don't use them unless it's acute. Direct massage seems to help, although that might be psychological. A cool to cold bath helps - seems to accelerate the healing process. I get sore sooner, and recover sooner as well. The bath helps the whole leg, while I'll use ice-packs for specific areas (like calves). I go with plain cold tap water - I'm not man enough to get into ice. Even a cold shower seems to help some.
Keep up the hard training!
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