Image credit: euskalanato
On our cross country trip, we started off pretty well with our exercise plan: the "Semiconsistent Portable Exercise Workout." (Hey maybe we'll turn it into a lucrative workout video some day! "You too can SPEW, for only $19.99 plus shipping and handling! Call now! ). This plan consisted of doing calisthentics at rest stops, going for runs and walks, and buying day-passes at local gyms along the way.
But true to form, by the end of our trip we were seriously slacking. "Screw it, it's a pain, and we'll be home soon enough!" became our cheerful exercise slogan.
Helpful Coaching Tip: if you're considering crafting a motivational exercise slogan of your own, phrases such as "Just Do It!" "Yes, I Can!" or "I'll Be So Glad Afterwards!" tend to outperform "Screw It, It's a Pain."
Then we got back to Provincetown, and due to
So when I finally went for my first serious strength training workout in several weeks? I was sore! And not just a little sore. I was extremely, hilariously, can't-sit-down-on-the-toilet, it-hurts-to-brush-my-hair, "ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow" sore.
It was so awesome.
Being a fairly unambitious, non-perfectionist type, I don't often push myself hard enough, or mix up my routine enough, to get seriously sore. So when I do (even if it's just because I took a break and I'm not doing anything heroically difficult), it makes me feel smug and happy. I love feeling sore from a workout, even though I may express this love by moaning and groaning and whining about the pain.
But my bubble was burst when I read a post by the awesome, energetic Shelley at A Forty-Something Weight Loss Journey. She wondered if she was doing something wrong because she wasn't getting quite as sore after every workout as she used to now that she was in better shape.
And I thought, wait, are we supposed to be getting sore after every workout? That's just too much work, and too much soreness. It ain't gonna happen here in CrankyLand.
(I'm back! Did you notice I was gone? I just had an idea for a future blog post that would be the old board game CandyLand made up instead to be CrankyLand! Instead of cute candy canes and gingerbread houses there would be stalks of broccoli and piles of brown rice and tedious exercise machines and ice packs for your knees and it wouldn't be any fun to win, but at least if you won you'd be alive at the end and not dead of a heart attack like the losers! So I went off and googled to find a mock-up of the CandyLand board... but then, dang it, I remembered: Crabby you don't have a clue how to do photoediting! And so that pretty much killed off the CrankyLand idea and now here I am again. Did you miss me? )
Anyway, I suspect a lot of you hardcores DO work out intensely enough to get sore really frequently. But for a lot of us, it's more of an occasional occurrence, triggered by coming back after periods of slackitude or reading an article about some cool new exercise and trying it (and then abandoning it). Oh yeah, and yard work. But it's not, like, all the time that we're sore.
So are slackers like me missing the boat by not exercising to the point of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness more often? Do you need to be sore to build muscles?
That's because most articles about muscle soreness seem to be coming from a different place. Either:
1. Telling people how not to get sore in the first place;
2. Telling people how to feel less miserable if they do get sore; or,
3. Reassuring beginners that they are not going to die of sore muscles, so that said beginners don't abandon exercise entirely and become couch potatoes again.
But nowhere could I find a recommendation on how often we should be trying to get sore. Being a notorious slacker, I'm going to take this to mean we don't have to try! But anyone who actually knows something about the subject, please feel free to leave helpful information to the contrary in the comments.
So what did I learn about muscle soreness generally? Well, advice varied.
How to avoid Muscle Soreness:
1. Warm up before you exercise and cool down afterwards.
2. Don't try to go from slothful slug to Superhero in a few weeks. Big changes in your exercise routine lead to soreness.
3. Go easy on eccentric muscle contractions. (And no, they don't mean "eccentric" as bizarre and weird, although depending on where you work out you may want to go easy on those too). They mean movements like running downhill, lowering weights, doing negatives, and generally stressing the muscle while it's lengthening rather than when its contracting.
However, I'd say ignore tip #3 because then you couldn't do things like push-ups or squats or dips, and you'd be missing out on negatives, a strength training trick that helps many people break through plateaus. So you may want to do eccentric exercises anyway and just suck it up and get sore afterwards.
How to Make Sore Muscles Feel Better:
4. Some say gentle massage; others say, meh, doesn't really help.
5. Do some easy low-impact exercise
6. Drink coffee
and hell, I'd add: Enjoy a nice therapeutic glass of wine or a potent cocktail. You're muscles may still hurt but you won't really give a crap!
So do you guys get sore pretty often from working out? Like it or hate it? Any helpful home remedies?