Hopefully, you have been using your progress chart to tick those boxes as you complete the different blocks within the programme. I'm sure that as you tick those sessions off you will be feeling pretty good.
There'll be the satisfaction of sticking to the programme, the sense of achievement of what you have done to this point and you'll be enjoying the fact that you are getting fitter. All good stuff, but you might also be feeling a bit sore.
If you are using this challenge as a way to get back into exercise, or if you haven't exercised for a long time, it's likely that you will be experiencing somebody soreness. This is to be expected when we put healthy stress on our body. We call this DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness.
Many people get a sense of satisfaction when they feel muscle soreness from exercise, but for some it limits the workout programme. For example, if you are really sore from yesterday's cardio component of the programme, the chances are higher you don't do your circuit workout today.
With this in mind, here are some tips on how to look after your body post-workout to help decrease the soreness.
The first thing to know is that the soreness will go away - normally within 72 hours of your workout. It's also important to know that you can still exercise when you have muscle soreness. Although you may be a bit stiff when you start, once you get moving you'll find that you'll be able to function as normal.
The most effective thing we can to do reduce muscle soreness is to encourage blood flow to those areas where you are experiencing DOMS. Rugby players use ice baths after a game. While this is a more extreme recovery technique, it is effective in preventing muscle soreness. The key to the ice bath, like all ice treatments, is that you do it soon after you have completed your session.
If you want to give it a go, run a cold bath and sit in it for 15 minutes or hose your body down with a detachable shower head. It's tough at the start, but you soon get used to it and it really does help. Other ways to improve blood flow include self- massage to the sore area and hot packs. The great thing about these two techniques is that you can do them when you are relaxing. While watching TV, set yourself up and get the blood flowing.
Research shows that compression gear helps reduce muscle soreness. If you feel that your soreness is getting to the point where it is restricting your progress, invest in compression gear to put on post-workout. A lot of athletes train with compression gear on, so this is also an option to try.
Despite popular belief, research shows stretching alone doesn't reduce muscle soreness significantly. But many athletes enjoy the feeling of lengthening their muscles when they are sore. If you are feeling sore and you just want to give your muscles a stretch, work through your stretches in a safe way. A foam roller is a great tool to use to work on your muscles and take this to the next level.
Whenever you start a new exercise programme, you are always going to experience some level of soreness at some stage. Remember this is a good thing as it's your body telling you that you are asking more of it and challenging it which will create change in a positive way. While this can be a satisfying feeling there will be times where doing some body care work will help you get back on track.
THE PRESS UP
Set up the hands wide enough so that at the bottom of the movement the elbows end up above the hands making a 90-degree angle. That also indicates the depth of the move down needed. Keep the back straight. Brace the belly and push up through the chest. This is not a hip exercise. Press-ups are hard and can be done in three levels of difficulty. Easiest is doing it with the knees under the hips. Next has the knees pushed further out past the hips. The hardest is with the knees also off the floor and the toes as the pivot.
Bevan James Eyles is a fitness professional who runs the training group, extramilerunners.co.nz.
- The Press