Updated: Feb 7, 2019
By: Conner Traywick, RGF Ambassador and FlyFit Instructor at Flywheel Sports
The reasons people exercise are all over the spectrum. Some train hard for general health, some attend their gyms for the communal atmosphere, some are training for competitions like a marathon or the CrossFit games. Though the intrinsic motivator may be different from person to person, everyone involved in fitness does have at least one mutual desire – to FEEL better.
Regular exercise has an amazing way of making the human body and mind feel healthier through things like hormone regulation, better quality sleep, stress reduction, improved mood, enhanced clarity and focus, optimal blood flow, and so much more. This feeling of a healthier body and mind often becomes addicting; so we workout more and more and at higher and higher intensities as we become more acclimated to our workouts. This continuous improvement, growth, and adaptation is a great scenario…BUT this is also the time in which it’s of vital importance to know how to listen to your body’s responses and understand what they mean.
Below are a couple of the most common negative signals your body may be sending you and how you should manage them so that you can continue to feel healthy and achieve all of your other fitness goals.
Issue: Most of us know the dreaded feeling of sitting down on a toilet with sore glutes and hamstrings way too well. That sh*t hurts! Pun intended. And you have probably heard that “getting sore means you had a good and effective workout.” Hate to break it to you but that is a myth.
To be honest there is quite some debate as to what exactly causes sore muscles…we know there is some inflammation and some potential buildup of lactic acid but other than that we really aren’t too sure. Any exercise or routine outside your normal training can cause soreness. I train my body with weights on a very regular basis and at an advanced level but if I were to go swim for a mile I can assure you I would be sore the next day. Does this mean that the swim stimulated more strength and muscle growth than my regular weight training workouts? Nope…not at all. The only way to tell if a workout is effective is your PROGRESS; plain and simple. Are you progressing? If the answer is “yes” then congratulations - you are training effectively. If the answer is “no” then I am sorry to tell you that what you are doing is not working regardless of how sore you get.
Management: If you find yourself getting so sore that it’s negatively impacting your workout the next day, you need to reduce the intensity. The saying “slow and steady wins the race” could not be more applicable here. Don’t dive in head first, full speed ahead, into an exercise routine that you haven’t done recently (or ever). Learn and master the movements, then gradually increase your intensity. This strategy will allow you to manage a new routine at a steady, continuous pace and more efficiently reap the benefits.
When you do find yourself getting sore from a workout, DO NOT remain sedentary and lay around all day. This is the worst thing to do. Instead, perform low intensity, full range of motion exercises and stretches to the affected area and not only will you recover faster but you will also prioritize muscle adaptation…in other words your muscles will get stronger and bigger, faster.
Pain in Certain Movement Patterns
Issue: Exercise is a physical stressor that forces your body to adapt and change so that it may more efficiently handle that physical stressor next time around. Your body’s methods of adaptation are amazing and the reason we become fitter the more we exercise; but there can be negative associations involved.
If a movement is continuously done incorrectly with improper form and incorrect muscle recruitment, your body will adopt imbalances and faulty movement patterns. Pair this with a mostly sedentary lifestyle consisting of sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours a day and imbalances are just about inevitable. This is usually a snowball effect as it is almost unnoticeable at first but a year later you’re dealing with chronic lower back pain, extremely tight hip flexors, weak glutes, poor core stability, and even headaches. Sure you might have built muscle, but now you feel like an eighty year old getting out of bed and your workout performance is suffering.
Management: As I mentioned before, take your time to master the proper form of a movement, fully understand where you should be feeling the resistance, what muscles you should be activating and THEN increase the intensity. This will allow for your body to adapt in the most optimal way. Now, I am cognizant that that is much easier said than done. I myself have trouble with this. With adrenaline pumping and endorphins rushing, it’s common we increase our intensity well before we should; then down the road we find ourselves with areas of chronic pain and weird joint movements.
Without the proper education, it is very difficult to gauge exactly where your imbalances and pains are stemming from…because usually it’s somewhere you wouldn’t even consider. This is when I recommend, above anything else, utilizing a knowledgeable professional like a sports chiropractor.
Sports chiropractors look for imbalances throughout the body then assess and treat them through adjustments, muscle work, exercise, kinesiology taping, and biomechanical improvements. They will find the actual root of the issue instead of just addressing the area of pain/stiffness. Pin point methods like massaging, foam rolling, or stretching your problem area can help in the short term but will not provide lasting relief if it’s not targeted at the initial biomechanical causation. You need an educated professional to discover what exactly is causing your issues, assess and treat, and then most importantly, educate you how to independently continue to heal your body so that you may perform and live at your optimal level.
My favorite chiropractor in the Raleigh area is Clint with Peak Chiropractic and Functional Wellness. Go give him a visit and tell him I said what’s up. It’ll change your life for the better.
All in all, it is tremendously important to listen to your body and react accordingly – whether it’s responses from the consumption of certain foods, a specific workout routine, working on your mobility, or your quality of sleep. Is your body telling you something? I would suggest that you listen.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: https://www.painscience.com/articles/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness.php