preventing pain while getting fit

“Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.” –  Lee Haney

Because so many of us have had to restructure, scale back, or even curtail our accustomed fitness practices and regimens during the recent pandemic (or just during the winter weather), there can be a sense of urgency about getting fit again. 

However, the desire to jump back into our workouts and exercise programs can lead us into potentially injurious actions. The feeling of urgency can easily translate into doing too much too soon. 

And this can lead to injury and pain.

We Are All Prone to Dissipating Fitness

Unfortunately, the superbly engineered biomechanical marvel we know as the human body has an inherent tendency towards regression and atrophy. 

In other words, unlike Newton’s first law of motion which states that a body at rest remains at rest, a human body at rest for any extended period of time quickly begins to lose its muscle strength, among other things.

For most people, strength loss occurs after two to three weeks of inactivity, but that can vary. As one source found:

  • In a 2017 study, men who did resistance training retained muscle strength after a two-week break.
  • In a 2013 study, athletes began to lose muscle strength after three weeks without a workout. 
  • In a 2015 study, active young adults lost one-third of their leg strength after only two weeks of inactivity.

Unfortunately, we also suffer the loss of cardio conditioning and even more quickly than muscle strength.

For example, a 1993 study of endurance cyclists found that after four weeks of inactivity there was a 20 percent decrease of their VO2 max, a measurement of the maximum capacity of intake, transport, and use of oxygen during exercise.

On the plus side, however, this indicator of fitness and cardio conditioning is easier to regain than muscle strength.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race – And It’s a Good Way to Start

A cardinal rule for preventing pain while getting fit is to take your time and don’t rush anything.

In a study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine in 2015, it was found that even missing out on regular physical activity for just two weeks can result in a substantial reduction of muscle strength and mass. And research indicates that it takes even longer than that to gain it back.

In other words, if you were regularly working out or maintaining an exercise routine more than a month or two ago, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to step back into right away as if there had been no gap. This is why health professionals suggest getting fit again one step at a time.

Of course, with all the disruptions in life that have resulted with COVID-19 and the subsequent shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and even periods of quarantine for so many people, keeping up a consistent fitness routine has been difficult, if not impossible. 

So, what does “one step at a time” look like when it comes to getting fit again?

Most experts agree that it’s best to take a measured approach by starting with just a few minutes a day of cardio, then working up to longer workouts by incorporating weights. For most healthy adults, the goal should be to work up to a total of 150 minutes of exercise a week, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to an article from Time magazine,

“Rather than logging a certain number of miles and then calling it a day, it’s crucial to start thinking about your workouts holistically — that includes your cool down, stretching and recovery, too, experts say.

“You want to be functional and pain-free,” [Jonathan] Leary says. “Unless you are a professional athlete who has to be strong and powerful, your number one focus should be mobility and flexibility.”

Getting in Shape and Staying Pain-Free with Pain and Performance Solutions

Despite our best efforts, however, it’s always likely that somewhere in the course of working out pain can develop. And the first step in recovering from that pain – and eventually being pain-free – is when we get to know you and your pain issues.

Once you make your first appointment, we’ll want to learn about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain.

After providing you with a full examination, we can determine which form of treatment is needed to help you on your road to recovery.

Often, when pain occurs, our bodies will try to compensate for the pain in order to allow us to get through the day with less pain. However, because our bodies have shifted that pain around to compensate for our discomfort, this often leads to other areas of pain.

Getting chronic pain relief with therapies such as Active Release Technique® and Anatomy in Motion can only begin when we can understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.

Your trust in us and your transparency is key. Getting your body to work properly and healthy is the only way to achieve total recovery. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any, and all questions that you may have. You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.