Have you ever experienced the aggravation of tendonitis or the burn of a strained muscle? It’s inevitable that at some point the stress on your body from working out will cause at least a little pain and discomfort. Physical pain is your body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. When a movement or exercise hurts, stop it immediately, breathe deeply, get some water, and assess the situation before continuing your workout.
Working out is supposed to improve your quality of life. A certain amount of muscle soreness can be expected when you begin a new program or step up a routine with new exercises. This soreness known as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS usually follows the workout and lasts a day or two. If pain persists and grows worse, don’t be too brave to consult a physician. Whenever you’re working out and a sudden, shooting pain immediately follows a movement or muscle contraction, you must stop at once or you may risk serious injury. Be aware of your body as it moves and how much you can realistically push yourself.
If you’re already suffering with a pre-existing condition, or if you think you might have one, check with your physician before beginning a program or continuing with your regular routine. Here I’m talking about things like chronic neck pain, shoulder impingement or rotator cuff issues, chronic low back pain and chondromalacia (wearing of the patella or knee cap). Once you’re diagnosed and treated for one of these ailments, only with your physician’s approval should you return to working out. Most doctors will tell you that with the correct progressive exercise program, many of the above conditions can be greatly improved or even eliminated! The key is to exercise safely and effectively so that you never injure yourself in the first place.
Here are four steps you can take to keep strong and pain free for years to come.
- Don’t forget the importance of a 5-10 minute warm-up. A brief walk to the gym or a few minutes on a recumbent bike can rev-up your metabolism and warm-up joints and muscles preventing injuries.
- Stretch lightly before lifting weights. Save more intensive stretching for between sets or after your overall workout.
- Weight training should be progressive. Begin with a light warm-up set and then gradually challenge your muscles with the next few sets as you add weight gradually and carefully. Keep a journal of the weight you lift.
- Always watch your form carefully as you perform each exercise. Get a good contraction of the muscle during the positive or concentric part of the motion and slow down on the negative or eccentric phase of the repetition.