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Understanding Types of Exercise Pain

exercise pain.jpgOver the course of the previous two months, we have been sharing workout and diet tips. Have you ramped up your reps since? Modified your routine to increase your weights for your strength training, or increased the number of circuits in your circuit training?

Have you been feeling pain after each exercise modification? Have you experience a new type of pain that you don’t recognise? Or perhaps it’s a similar type of pain but in a new area?

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage."

Understanding your physical limits through recognising the symptoms of pain induced by exercise is important in exercise safety. Injuries from sports is common  while pain is a natural defense mechanism triggered by the body, being able to identify the “wrong” type of pain can allow us to prevent serious damage or even long term damage to our body.

There are 3 types of pain that you should be aware of;

1. Muscle Pain
What does it feel like: Soreness
When we say “muscle pain”, what we really mean is “muscle soreness”. This soreness is usually a result of vigorous exercise, which can be in the form of a tough workout at the gym or simple a more demanding day and active day at work. When your body is physically stressed, lactic acid accumulates and can irritate the muscles. However, lactic acid typically is removed from muscles within a day. If you experience soreness only days after the workout, it could be symptomatic of a condition known as “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness”, or DOMS. This happens when swelling in the muscle compartment that results from an influx of white blood cells, prostaglandins (which are anti-inflammatory), and other nutrients and fluids that flow to the muscles to repair the "damage" after a tough workout.

The type of muscle damage I am referring to is microscopic and is part of the normal process of growth in the body called anabolism.
Muscle soreness can last up to a week but is a natural response of your body to increase physical activity – You do not have to see a doctor for such a condition, your body will heal itself!

Exercise induces microtears and swelling in muscle fibers, which impinge on nerves and vessels. Over time, this can develop into adhesions and scar tissue. Foam rolling helps smooth out these obstructions and break down adhesions, helping to increase blood-flow within the muscle. Here are some ways to use the foam roller:
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2. Joint Pain

What does it feel like: Pain, warmth in the joint area, stiffness or swelling.

Joint pain can be caused by injury affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint. Injury can also affect the ligaments, cartilage, and bones within the joint. Pain is also a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis) and infection, and can be a feature of tumors of the joint. 

Joint pain, particularly in the joints of the knee, ankle, elbow and wrist, should never be ignored. Because these joints are not covered by muscle, pain here is rarely of muscular origin. If you think you are experiencing joint pain (if you find the pain too intense to stand or walk, it’s likely to be joint pain), stop your exercise. If the pain persists, see a rehab specialist. If you develop a fever, see a doctor. If the pain persists after 48 hours, see a doctor. 

3. Trigger Point Pain

What does it feel like: Dull and achy, often deep.

A trigger point is simply a small contraction knot in muscle. This knot feels like a pea buried deep in the muscle, and can feel as big as a thumb. It maintains a hard contraction on the muscle fibres connected to it, thus causing a tight band that can also be felt in the muscle. These trigger points in muscles and in the thin wrapping around each muscle are called myofascial trigger points, to distinguish them from trigger points which can occur in other soft tissues such as skin, ligaments and tendons, and also in scar tissue.

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While it sounds cool... pain is definitely not weakness leaving the body! It is an indicator that something is happening to your body. At the end of the day, you should always pay attention to how your body is responding to your actions. The benefit of having a personal trainer is that you can immediately consult your trainer and be confident of how you choose to manage your pain, given the professional advice. Call Khit today and ask for your free trial session, after all, we want you to feel confident and assured when you sign up for a Personal Trainer.