I can’t tell you how often I hear people saying “I had such a great workout, I can’t walk today.” Well, I hate to break this to you – but that isn’t a sign of a great workout – that’s a sign of overdoing it. When your muscles cry out in pain, they have been traumatized – damaged. Mild soreness for up to 72 hours after exercise is okay, and normal – especially if you’ve done moves you’re unfamiliar with – but feeling excruciating discomfort immediately after, the day after or a week after a workout is unacceptable.
I’ve been guilty of putting my clients in this position – but not on purpose. Sometimes, (and I hate to play the blame game, but I will) it’s the client’s fault. They visit with me once a week and the other 167 hours of the week they do no exercise. Even if I try to keep the exercises mild, being inactive most of the time outside of a session dooms you to soreness. Sometimes, I’m to blame – I overestimate a client’s abilities or I feel like a person “should” be at a specific level, even when they aren’t. Sometimes a body just doesn’t react as you’d think and the client ends up more sore than I ever intended. In classes, it is up to you – I can’t manage every participant and tailor it to his/her fitness level. I offer levels – if you get ambitious and work too hard or hit a class that exceeds your abilities, you will most likely be sore. Don’t buy into the no-pain-no-gain philosophy. If you feel pain after a class, take it down a notch your next workout.
Then, there are those trainers that strive to make their clients suffer. You may feed into this by bragging about how hard you worked and how tough your trainer is. Your trainer isn’t doing you any favors – he’s setting you up for injury and frustration. When you feel sore after every workout, you may be less likely to stick to exercise – after all, who wants to hurt all the time?
If you do hurt, an Epsom salt bath and a light workout the next day can help. Light workouts, like a brisk walk, easy jog or recovery cycle class, help increase circulation to heal the micro-tears in your muscles. Over-the-counter pain meds can also help – but avoid becoming reliant on these after each session with a trainer. Also know that if you feel pain in your joints – rather than your muscles – your body is telling you something. Joint pain can turn into a full-blown injury. Talk to your trainer and describe your soreness. He should take it seriously and aim to prevent such a serious reaction after your next session. If he just works you harder, run the other way. You don’t need to pay for torture – life serves up plenty of that…watch the news lately?