You join a gym; you feel great that finally, you were able to pull yourself from that miserable couch and do something that you have been procrastinating for a very long time. But the next day, you feel pain in about every muscle you know and can hardly move. This is called muscle soreness. All the motivation and love you had yesterday has disappeared.
The pain arising due to muscle soreness is nothing but a side-effect of a workout as your muscles are not habituated to the amount of stress you are putting on them. Not only it appears at the onset of your exercising journey, but each time you change your exercises and increase the load on your muscle. And amazingly, after a few days, the pain is replaced with strength, and you feel great, better than ever before. It is a never-ending cycle, and pain is part of your strength-building process.
In a way, muscle soreness is an indicator of progress. With a systematic workout routine, you will have enough rest days in a week to recover from fatigue and get stronger. But there is a fine line between good pain and bad pain. To know when you have to keep on going and know when you have to give it a rest, here are a few things that will help you.
Understanding the difference between Soreness and Pain
There is a degree of discomfort associated with every physical activity you do. It is important to understand the difference between exercise-related muscle soreness and pain.
Pain can be an indication of injury or stress, which doesn’t linearly exceed. Also, it varies in degree, as the pain tolerance levels are different from person to person. Pain management is essential for a person to optimally perform an exercise.
The Role of Lactic Acid
Our body produces lactic acid during an anaerobic workout. Lactic acid is the main reason for any kind of discomfort or burning sensation we experience during our workout sessions. Mostly, you might feel this sensation in your lungs and muscles. When doing any kind of anaerobic exercise, such as strength building, the body requires more than usual fuel to spend. During this time, the body doesn’t have enough oxygen to fuel itself, and as a result, it uses lactic acid to create more energy. Also, the harder the exercise, the bigger will be the lactic acid build-up.
As lactic acid production is inevitable, you can only work out harder and push yourself to a limit to which you are facing no breathing problem and aren’t experiencing sharp pain in your joints and muscles. As you grow stronger, your body will improve its mechanism of clearing out the lactic acid produced; this means you can train harder and longer. If you feel unbearable pain, it is better to stop and seek advice from professionals as there is a high chance that you are doing the exercise the wrong way.
Knowing your activity threshold
While exercising, you must increase your stress level linearly. Have a fitness plan that strategically trains your body and make them stronger over time. Don’t set unrealistic goals.
Different factors can be behind the pain, further varying person to person, and individual medical conditions. Every person’s body is different concerning flexibility, baseline strength, participation level, and age. These factors play an important role in defining your activity threshold. Stay within the activity threshold, and it will result in muscular soreness. Exceed it, and you will injure yourself.
As you work your way towards your fitness goals, you will experience your Tmax increasing too. T-max is the maximum weight you can lift during an exercise. It is just like when you begin running, you can barely run for 10 mins, but slowly, you improve your stamina, and your threshold increases from 10 mins to 20 mins and more. Similarly, when you exercise with weights, your threshold improves, and soon, you will start gaining from your workout. This way, you decrease the chances of injury.
You must understand that our body cannot change overnight; you have to be very realistic about your activity threshold. Here are a few things that will help you improve your understanding of muscle soreness and pain.
Signs of Muscle Soreness
1. Location: Muscles
2. Type of Discomfort: You will feel tenderness in muscles on touching them. Fatigue and burning sensation can also be felt during exercise and stiffness and achiness at rest.
3. Duration: Muscle soreness might start during the exercise and last 24-72 hours after the activity.
4. Pain Management Tips: Muscle soreness can worsen if you do not continue the exercise. Stretching, warm-ups, and cool-down exercises, and appropriate rest and recovery time can help you manage pain arising from muscle soreness. Perform other activities than the exercise that caused muscle soreness; you can also try isolated exercises to improve muscles’ strength.
Signs of Injury
1. Location: Muscles and Bone
2. Types of Discomfort: Pain caused due to injury can leave you helpless. You might feel a sharp ache and pain during resting or exercising.
3. Duration: You can injure yourself while exercising, and the pain may start while you are exercising or while you are resting. The pain can last for a long time if you don’t attend to the injury and give it time to heal.
4. Pain Management: You can try to reduce the swelling and pain by putting ice on it, taking proper rest, making slow movements (only if the physicians approved of it). Also, consult with a medical professional if the pain lasts longer than 1 week or in case the pain is unbearable and increasing.
Preventing Bad Pain
When you are doing exercise, everything might seem like a bad pain. But don’t let it fool you. Use the above-mentioned points to differentiate between good pain (muscle soreness) and bad pain and the mentioned pain management methods. Soon, you will find your body improving.
Also, it is kind of hard for the first time to do things right. But you will get there in time. For starters, to prevent bad pain, don’t overdo yourself. Stay inside your activity threshold. If your body doesn’t allow a certain movement, do it slowly, make sure the technique is right. You can also modify the moves slightly to ease up things for you; you will still be benefitted even when you are not performing the whole range of movement. Remember, safety comes first.
How can Stratfit help you?
Stratfit is an intuitively designed fitness mobile application that offers you a wide range of workouts curated by world-class fitness professionals. In the backend of the application is artificial intelligence technology that improves your experience with the app by auto-regulating the workouts as per your progress. In short, the app brings you a virtual experience of working out with the best personal trainers around the world.
The app performs asks you multiple questions to assess your pre-activity level. This helps it in determining the readiness of your body for exercise. Also, every program is goal-oriented, and you get several workout strategies to progress in your exercising activities and minimize the chance of becoming injured. With each program, systematically designed and periodized, the app addresses all the factors contributing to injury to prevent further problems.