Too many Americans do not get enough exercise. Public polls say the top three reasons are: 1) You don't have time; 2) You can't make the commitment to stick to an exercise routine; and 3) Exercise HURTS!
Hurts? Common sense tells you exercise should not be painful if done correctly. Feeling a little sore afterward is normal, natural and a healthy sign of a challenging workout. However, sports medicine experts also recognize a syndrome called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is pain or discomfort felt 24 to 72 hours after exercising. Is this your trouble?
Once thought to be caused by lactic acid buildup, recent research raises questions about what sports trainers and physiotherapists think about DOMS and about acute exercise pain in general. So even though careful exercise may sometimes hurt you right now, don't give up hope. Better yet, if you wince from trying to exercise with a bad back or a pulled tendon, encouraging new advice on how to handle your condition will help you stay in the game.
It is not news there is nothing better for you than a good workout. It helps you to lose weight, build up muscles, increase bone density and improve your cardiovascular system and circulation. Done regularly, exercise is even proven effective against alleviating depression.
You do not need to hurt yourself to experience the benefits of exercise. Here what to do...
Hold your cardiovascular within your target heart rate zone. If you huff and puff too much to talk to the person next to you, ease off until you can carry on a regular conversation.
When it comes to weight training, effort must be involved because lean body tissue only grows when you challenge yourself. Use the heaviest weights you can handle for 12 to 16 reps. You should feel the famous muscular "burn" but not teeth-grinding agony.
But if you are careful and yet feel worn-out and are experiencing muscle pain for 72 hours or more, then consider the latest thinking on DOMS. The old lactic-acid-buildup theory of DOMS overlooks the fact that lactic acid disperses fairly rapidly and so could not explain the pain experience days after exercise. Moreover, certain exercises have been demonstrated to routinely produce lactic acid but only rarely cause DOMS.
The latest studies seem to show that DOMS has to do with the type of exercises performed. For example, downhill running involves so-called eccentric muscular contractions and results in severe DOMS. It is now theorized that the pain is due, not to lactic acid, but to tiny tears in the muscle fibers caused by these eccentric contraction and also by unaccustomed training levels. The pain from back problems demands that the sufferer not add any further stress. However, it's just as important never to let supporting muscles weaken or stop moving altogether. Low-impact workouts such as walking, stability ball exercises and warm-water swimming are excellent. Experts also suggest looking for ways to strengthen abdominal muscles without doing sit-ups or any other back-straining exercises.
Lastly, the other major exercise pain comes from working out with tendonitis or sprained muscles or tendons. The usual advice is to rest until the hurting goes away. But leading sports medicine specialists now say such thinking is outdated and counterproductive.
"We want to keep you moving," says Dr. William Roberts, a sports medicine specialist at the University of Minnesota and a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine. "Injured tissue heals better if it's under some sort of stress."
No exercise should hurt, but if it does cause pain, moderating the kinds and intensity of workouts can make all the difference. Keep up a reduced schedule for your own good. And if you still don't exercise? Find time and make the commitment. Your top three anti-exercise excuses are officially gone. Let's get into shape.
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