Heal Better: Smart Workout Pain Solutions
Smart Pain Solutions
Minor aches and ouches during your workout are typically nothing to sweat about. Here's how to recover fast from the three most common kinds.The pain: Sharp and sudden
What to do: Stop exercising immediately. Let loose with a few expletives if you're so inclined: Research shows that swearing helps block pain. Then try gentle stretching. If it's just a muscle spasm, that should help relieve the ache, says Weiss. "If stretching makes it worse, it's likely that you have a strain. You'll need to change your workout so it's pain-free or stop exercising altogether. To treat your injury, apply ice for 20 minutes several times a day."The pain: A dull ache or cramp that hits as soon as you start your workout
What to do: Keep going for two to three minutes and it will probably subside. This kind of pain often occurs early during exercise while your body limbers up. If the ache continues for more than five minutes, stop and rest that specific joint or muscle until you can exercise without pain, says Urso. To prevent cramping next time, warm up for 10 minutes instead of five. If pain early in your workout persists for two weeks, see your doctor.The pain: An overwhelming ache late in your routine
What to do: As your body struggles to get rid of the lactic acid and carbon monoxide that build up during exercise, physical exhaustion can make you hurt. Reduce your intensity or pace. "If you're maxed out, you need to stop," Weiss says. Next time try tanking up on coffee first. Women in a study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who consumed caffeine before a tough bout of cycling tolerated leg pain better than those who took a placebo. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a brain chemical that helps process pain.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, June 2011.
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