Paying Attention to Pain and Soreness
By Chad Tackett, President of GHF
When any workout or specific exercise causes you pain, pay attention. Knowing how to react can help you avoid a serious injury. Strength training can cause several types of pain including:
When you use muscles you have not used for a while or try a new exercise or training technique, it is normal to feel a dull ache of soreness in the muscles that were trained. This pain is caused by microscopic tears in the fibers of the connective tissues in your body--the ligaments that connect bones to other bones, and the tendons that connect muscles to bones.
This microtrauma may sound harmful but is in fact the natural response of your muscles when they experience work. This is the primary reason it is so important that you get enough rest between specific muscle workouts. Each time you work out with weights, you cause this "damage"--these tiny tears in your muscles; they need ample resting time to rebuild and become even stronger, bigger, and more firm.
Pain During or Just After a Workout
During a workout, repeated contractions cause lactic and other acids, as well as proteins and hormones, to build up in muscle tissue. This can cause pain even without injury. But if you experience a sharp, continuous pain, or pain accompanied by a burning sensation, stop lifting and get it checked.
These happen when muscles, often in the calves or feet, knot up in intense contractions. Cramps occur most commonly in endurance sports like cycling and running, where the athlete loses a lot of fluids through sweating. This is why it's very important to stay well-hydrated during exercise. If you do get cramps, the best way to stop them is to gently stretch the cramped muscle.
When working out with weights you need to be in full control of both the weights and your own body as it lifts and uses the weights. Careless weightlifting can result in injury. Not warming up, attempting to lift too heavy a weight, using momentum or jerky movements, letting the weights drop, not using correct form, or forgetting to stretch or cool-down after your workout can indeed result in injury.
The following injuries can occur as a result of carelessness:
- Tendonitis: This is inflammation of the tendon and can occur if you begin your first set with too heavy a weight and/or are not properly warmed-up. Rest is the best treatment for this painful injury.
- Fascia injuries: Can occur if you suddenly jerk or pull the weight. Fascia is basically the packaging tissue of muscle. When fascia is torn, it becomes inflamed and the pain is severe. The injury should be treated with cold packs and wrapped with an ace bandage.
- Ligament injuries: Can occur when people use momentum and jerk the weight to accomplish a lift. This injury is treated by using cold packs and rest.
- Sprains or muscle tears: Are uncommon if you warm-up, stretch, and cool-down properly and implement the safety precautions and principles we teach.
Any time you do have inflammation or swelling, use the R.I.C.E method of reducing damage and speeding healing. For injuries, R.I.C.E. is nice.
- Rest: When you are hurt, stop your workout immediately and take weight off the affected area.
- Ice: Wrap ice in a towel and hold it against the injury for 10 to 20 minutes, three or four times a day until the acute injury diminishes.
- Compress: Wrap the injured area in a snug, but not tight, elastic bandage.
- Elevate: Raise the injured limb and rest it on a pillow to reduce swelling.
Strength training provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. However, when enjoying this great form of exercise, be sure to pay attention to pain and soreness so that your program is not only effective, but safe as well. Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of a safe and effective strength training program.
This article was reprinted with the permission of Global Health & Fitness. Visit our partner site for advanced topics, health club listings, and unlimited member personal fitness consulting.