If you would like to attend the first annual MPHoliday Riot this Friday, December 11 from 7-9p, please RSVP via MINDBODY no later than tonight at 5p.
Congratulations Lee P., for completing our Elements Workshop curriculum!
On Post-Workout Response
As coaches, one of our primary objectives is to keep you injury-free while engendering improvement in all 10 areas of physical development. In order to provide you safe and proper care, we encourage you to tell us how you are feeling before, after and in-between workouts. In addition to more subtle feedback, we use your subjective descriptive terms, body language and movement patterns to decide how to accommodate and what to expect from you in each workout. For this reason, it is critical to understand your body’s response to exercise, and define common terms used to describe these responses. The following are not interchangeable:
- “Muscular fatigue” occurs during a workout. As you repeatedly call upon muscle groups to contract while training, work byproducts (lactate) accumulate within them if the demands on the muscles do not allow timeto sufficiently clear these waste products (the lactate threshold). This causes a lowering of the pH within the muscle(s)—literally, an acid-based burning sensation. We often hear muscular fatigue described as “cramping” or “tightness.”
- This response is frequently felt in the bigger muscles of the body, like the quadriceps and those in the hip complex—especially the postural muscles of the lower back. We want this response during a workout—we need this response during a workout—because, among other favorable adaptations, the best way to raise your lactate threshold (i.e., delay the point at which the burning starts) is to train at an intensity that induces it. With continued training, it will take increasingly more work, weight, repetitions and time for this response to develop. Avoiding training at this margin (with proper mechanics and efficient movement) will delay improvement and may increase injury risk.
- “Soreness” is the normal and productive byproduct of training, and is a result of desired, anticipated damage to muscle fibers followed by your body’s healing inflammatory response. This adaptive process leads to greater stamina and strength, among others. Occurring 12-24 hours post-workout, and often called delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), this sensation describes a combination of muscle pain and stiffness—regardless of severity. We often hear “soreness” interchanged with “tightness,” and this parallel is acceptable.
- Breaking down muscle fibers allows your body to re-build them stronger than they were pre-exercise. Levels of soreness generally decrease after the first few months of training, and increase when either intensity or total training volume increases. Your recovery ability, the amount of soreness you feel and how quickly it subsides, is directly related to your training history (e.g., a seasoned athlete versus a beginner), nutrition, sleep and rest.You can maximize your ability to recover by eating Paleo-quality foods and getting enough sleep. Further, high levels of soreness are not cause for inactivity or missed workouts. At a minimum, various therapeutic modalities can be accomplished under our supervision that will hasten recovery and reduction of symptoms. Often times, however, a simple, thorough warm-up is sufficient to reduce complaints.
- Acute musculoskeletal injury is typically a rupture or tear of muscle or tendon fibers (strains), ligament fibers (sprains) or a broken bone. This type of preventable injury occurs during an activity, and is immediately apparent—sharp pain at the time of injury, noise (a “pop”), the feeling of a muscle stretching or giving-out, and immediate swelling. An effective example of acute injury is an ankle sprain—immediate pain, and a baseball-sized ankle minutes after the event. Acute injuries can be caused by improper movement or loading a joint or muscle well pastits capacity, and usually occur when neuromuscular structures are exhausted. In addition, acute injuries are frequently a result of low concentration (being unaware, unfamiliar or unimpressed with your environment) or under-recovery between workouts.
- Healing times for acute injuries are affected by the scope and severity of the damage, and range from hours (e.g., a very small tear, often described as a “tweak”) to eight to 12 weeks (e.g., a third-degree ligament sprain). The treatment for acute injuries is four-fold: first, reduce inflammation of the structure (ice, rest, elevate, compress), then allow sufficient time for the injury to heal (make sure to unload the structure to prevent re-injury during this time), regain full flexibility in the muscle or joint, and finally retrain the muscle and movement patterns. Acute injuries are not cause for inactivity, either. We can accommodate any injury and substitute for any exercise or movement pattern. If an acute injury occurs, recovery must include continued development of those unaffected areas.
- Chronic injuries develop over time (weeks or months, possibly even years) and last for weeks, or longer. Chronic pain is often described to us as a “dull ache,” but is also qualified in other ways. Common chronic injuries include the “-itis-es”—shoulder tendonitis or knee pain, for example. They are a result of four factors: overuse (also, under-recovery) causing breakdown and inflammation at the structure, joint immobility and compensation at other joints, poor movement patterns leading to improper stress on tissues, and muscular weakness.
- Chronic injuries must be addressed aggressively, and absolutely do not preclude training. To treat them, we first unload the structure, substituting exercises as needed, and reduce swelling (ice, rest, compression, elevation) to allow the tissue to heal. Concomitantly, we must fix both posture and biomechanics. So many chronic injuries—lower back pain and shoulder tendonitis, in particular—are a result of poor posture and flexibility due to sitting hunched at a desk for hours on end. It is, in fact, as simple as that. Aggressive flexibility protocols and training through full range-of-motion in primal movement patterns—squats, deadlifts, pulls and presses—strengthen muscles and rehabilitate the body, functionally and expediently.
MPH is an athletic training environment, and one that carries low (not negligible) levels of risk. The demands on your body here are great because these tasks are what your body is designed to accomplish, and because they breed the best and fastest results. In particular, the level of soreness after a workout can be quite substantial, and can sometimes be mistaken for, or simply overstated as, injury. As demonstrated above, the term “injury,” as well as the phrase “I hurt ‘something’,” denote conditions substantially more serious than “soreness,” and the two descriptions cannot and should not be used synonymously. Incidentally, the use of “pain” is most appropriate when coupled with actual injury.
With a more substantial working knowledge of these terms, we hope to arm you with a more precise way to describe how your body responds to exercise. However, the most effective way to communicate is to avoid self-diagnosis (and even medical diagnosis in some cases). Simply, it is important to be thorough in relaying to us exactly how you feel after a workout, and take care to recover properly between training sessions. The more comprehensive your description, the more we can help.
Rest and recover today.
–Melody and John