‘Hey Icon, put me on a routine please? I have your time today.’
This was what I told the trainer at the gym I use in my neighbourhood. I have a more than fair knowledge of exercises and gym equipment so usually, I just do my thing without joining the group aerobics or asking for help from the trainer. That week though, I was ready for more, so I submitted myself to gym instructor.
He was happy to oblige. We went through five new and challenging routines which I enjoyed too.
By the next morning though, I could not stand up without wincing. Or go down the stairs without drama or even sit on the toilet seat without pain. Everywhere hurt. By the second day, the soreness in my muscle had peaked and usually, this is when most people give up on working out because it is too painful.
One word that we usually associate with exercise is pain. Or like I prefer to call it, muscle soreness.
Before I go deeper, let me explain what exercising really is. It is s destruction of your muscles so they can be built back, this time stronger. What this means is that you are bound to feel sore when you start working out or change your previous routine. However, if you do not cut short that process by either quitting or using drugs, the result after a couple of days would be stronger muscles which issagoal
There is a technical term for it called DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.
It is termed ‘delayed’ because you hardly feel it that same day. Most times, you need to go to sleep and then wake before you feel the muscle soreness. And for most people, it would peak after the second night’s sleep. Tempting as it is, please do not quit or take drugs. You want stronger muscles so bear with it.
However, can this process be a little less painful?
Of course. Here are a few tips to reduce DOMS seeing as we cannot exactly eliminate it
Most people jump head first into a workout routine as if all the fat can be lost on the first day. And some gym instructors do not help matters as they just throw you right into it. You must own the process and start gradually. Pace yourself and increase your reps as the days go by. For example, when you start skipping, if 50 is all you can do, that is fine. No need to be intimidated by someone already doing 2000. She started small so if you stay consistent, you too will hit 2000. If you are doing a 30minute workout video, there is no shame in stopping at the 15min mark. We need to live to fight another day. Your form too must be right so look closely at the instructor and where possible, ask her/him to correct your form.
Warm up and stretch
This is another important part of a workout process which some people just skip right through. Take at least 3 to 5mins to warm those muscles up before jumping into the workout. Then, after the workout, take at least 5 minutes to stretch those muscles. The deal about stretches is that you must do them till you feel them, and it looks like you are hurting even more. That is when a stretch is effective. If you are not feeling it, it’s not working
Yes, you should be consistent with exercise, but you must also give your muscles a complete day of rest. This allows for recovery so when you get back to working out. Most people would work out Monday to Saturday and take Sunday off. The day doesn’t matter though, it is the principle that does. Rest is a part of the process.
Finally, I would like to state that there is a difference between muscle soreness and muscle injury. If you have torn a tendon or ligament, that kind of pain is different from DOMS and you should stop completely. Putting more pressure on an injured muscle would delay the healing process. Which is why you must be a good student of your body and listen to it. DOMS will start to wane after the first two days and even when working out through DOMS, the soreness tends to disappear temporarily. Injury however only gets and feels worse
So, cheers to building a consistent workout routine.