Posted on August 09 2017
One of the most disconcerting things about following a new exercise routine -- especially if you are performing high-impact exercises like lifting weights, bike riding, running, or wearing your Physiclo resistance gear for the first time -- is muscle soreness.
Muscle soreness can be especially troubling for beginner athletes simply because muscles and tendons are being used in ways that they have never been used before. Muscle soreness can not only discourage beginner athletes from continuing with a new exercise program, but it can lead to injuries and stiffness further down the road. It is important, therefore, that beginner athletes know how to deal with this common problem, especially since the common wisdom surrounding this problem has changed in the last few years.
Soreness and stiffness are not only a hindrance to athletic performance, they can also affect you psychologically. If you get out of bed to go for your morning bike ride or jog and discover that you feel too stiff to move, you may simply delay your exercise. You will certainly feel discouraged. It is of vital importance, therefore, that you take things easy at first, especially if you are just starting out on your journey to fitness. However, it is inevitable that you will eventually feel some muscle soreness: that is how you know that you are using your muscles! How do you deal with this problem once it arises?
For the last thirty or so years, the prevailing wisdom on how to deal with muscle soreness has been Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation: RICE. The RICE method helps to eliminate pain by relieving inflammation. However, the scientist who coined the term has recently announced that this common way of dealing with muscle soreness may, in fact, delay the healing process.
According to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a sports medicine expert and radio host, inflammation can be important. It is your body's way of healing. When you apply ice to sore muscles, the ice blocks the hormones which trigger the inflammatory response in your body's tissues. This is fine if you do not want inflammation, but in fact all you are doing is delaying the body's response. Healing will take place, it will just take longer than expected. In fact, scientific studies now show that RICE can delay healing by as much as half a day. Inflammation is an aid to healing -- it is part of the body's natural defences against tissue damager.
Using the RICE method to manage pain is fine, but if you want to bounce back faster, and if your soreness is not that severe, you should consider aiding your body's healing process by moving instead. If your quads are sore from running, go for a stroll or an easy bike ride with the kids. If your calves are sore from a hard bike ride, take the dog for a walk. You will get the blood moving and aid muscle recovery. Also, if you are too sore to run, a not-so-intense workout like a brisk walk or a stroll will ensure that you keep your fitness up even on rest days.
Beginning runners and bikers should be especially careful not to overuse non-prescription painkillers such as ibuprofen. Several scientific studies have concluded that long-term painkiller use can actually hinder muscle recovery by releasing damaged cells (from the intestines) into the bloodstream, thereby strengthening the inflammatory response. Yes, anti-inflammatories can actually cause more inflammation if they are used long term.
So, if you're taking on a new exercise routine (or turning up the intensity of your current routines with Physiclo), the way to combat muscle soreness is to take it easy at first, to keep moving, and to only use anti-inflammatories when absolutely necessary. In addition, a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables will ensure that you get plenty of antioxidants in your diet, beefing up your body's natural defences.