Prevent that exercise pain and stiffness

It's been two or three weeks since you began your new fitness routine. Noticed any changes? Maybe you have a few sore places here and there? If you are the average new fitness student, you probably woke up three days after your first workout and found that your legs wouldn't bend. Stairs were out, and using the toilet was a challenge. It's the "three-day" syndrome. The first day that you exercise, your energy level is high, muscles move fluidly, and the sky's the limit. By the second day, you get a strange premonition that things are not quite right, and by the morning of the third day, rigor mortis has set in.

Muscle areas of the body are affected differently. Your quadriceps, for example, are large muscles that are used for almost every type of fitness move or type of fitness. Every time you bend the knees or lift your leg, no matter if in a standing position or on the floor, you are working the large muscles of the leg. Quadriceps are the first areas of soreness you will discover when you begin to exercise. The next muscle groups to be affected with soreness are the upper arm, chest and shoulder areas, especially if you are taking up a racquet sport or working out with weights.

How did this happen? Why didn't you notice the first twinge? It's easy. When you put yourself in the middle of a fitness program and throw in friends or family members who are already fit, you begin to compete. Moderation goes out the window! So how do you prevent those painfully sore muscles? And what do you do about it after the fact? You can't avoid some soreness, but if you warm up slowly before your workout, it will help.

Time spent limbering up is time well spent; especially for those legs. Get the blood moving in your muscles with a little deep breathing and some easy jogging movements and an easy stretch. Professional athletes will stretch and move before competition or a training session. You should, too!

Do not become discouraged if you are sore. Any muscle group that has been unused for a length of time will tell you about its lack of use the day following your first workout. You will eventually be able to tie your shoes again. Take a hot shower or bath or use the hot tub, and do a little stretching and easy jogging to loosen muscles that have set up. Stay with it. After the first week of exercise, most of your muscle soreness will be gone. Keep in mind that if you have been inactive for a length of time, it will take you one month of training for every year of inactivity to build up your body to a safe, fit level.

Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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