Author: Christa Randolph- Physical Therapist
Congratulations on your new commitment to your health. As this new journey starts, there is bound to be speed bumps that you encounter. Here are some helpful tips to allow you to listen to your body so that your experience can be both beneficial and effective.
It is inevitable that as you begin new routines, your body will begin to respond in different ways (YAY…right?!) It is important to be able to discern when your body is giving you a “normal” response to training and when your body is giving you a “warning sign”. Below is the most relatable pain chart that I have ever seen! Not all responses require you to shut down your program and your progress and sometimes, it is super important to slow it down or rest to allow your body to heal. Obviously, any concerns should be discussed with a medical provider.
When to keep going
Soreness could most likely be characterized by numbers 1-4 on the pain chart. Causes of soreness with new activity could be from your body doing something new, small microtears in soft tissue, and/or lactic acid buildup. These causes sound way worse than they are. Microtearing of muscle is its way of developing stronger tissue. The most important part of this phase of training is our response to the soreness. It is vital to stay hydrated, nourish our body, and to KEEP MOVING! Don’t be alarmed if this phase lasts for several days. It may not even occur right after the new activity. Often times Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) does not reach its peak until 2-3 days later. Knowing what your body is telling you will become such an asset to your health journey.
When to stop going
Any number above 5 on the pain scale should be reason to slow down or stop. This response MAY BE a way that your body is telling you that something is just not right. It is important to recognize when you are having these symptoms. Are they during a specific movement, throughout your workout, or at rest? This will be helpful in determining your cause of discomfort. It is important to not “push through” any sharp, or shooting symptoms. Your body was wonderfully made and it will recognize when it needs to “shut down” (also called neurogenic inhibition) to prevent injury. It will be of no benefit to “push thru” these symptoms and can actually cause a longer recovery time and limit your overall progress.
Tips to stay healthy
There is nothing worse than making that commitment to exercise, and being sidelined due to an injury. Be sure to not do “too much, too soon”. Take it slow and make small, bite sized goals. Be sure to have good form and mechanics. Ask questions and use the mirror. Feedback is essential for growth! Switch it up. Repetitive, overuse injuries are super common and a great way slow down progress. Too much of a good thing...can be a bad thing.