Friday, March 27, 2009

Exercise Pain

photograph courtesy of

Exercise pain
is one of the most common complaints I hear from patients who come to me for Bowen therapy. I find it ironic that people are determined to incorporate an exercise routine in their lives to stay fit and healthy, but end up complaining about injuries as well as exercise pain.

Exercise pain is your body's way of telling you that you are pushing your body beyond its normal capacity and you need to adjust your exercise routine to a lesser degree than what you wish to achieve. I know that we all want to look fit, firm and slim for aesthetic reasons as well as for health reasons. It is common knowledge that exercise lowers bad cholesterol, improves blood circulation, gets rid of fat and flabby skin, removes toxins from the body, stabilizes blood pressure and improves resistance to disease by raising our immune system. But it is not suppose to injure the body or cause exercise pain.

Each one of us are built and made differently. Our bodies are unique in their own right and have their own advantages and disadvantages. I for example, come out of a yoga class or a Pilates session feeling light, flexible, taller (as if my spine has been stretched longer by 2 inches), straighter and re-energized. I feel tired at some degree; but it is only the right amount of tiredness and it compels me to sleep earlier than usual (since I am an insomniac) and gives me the deepest and most restful sleep at night. I never come out of a yoga or a Pilates class complaining of exercise pain.

Now others may not resonate with yoga or Pilates and may find it too "slow" for their taste or too difficult, especially if their bodies are not supple enough. Some people prefer high impact exercises like aerobics, tennis, badminton, golf, running, kickboxing, and others. Now I personally have nothing against sports or high impact exercises. If they work for you, then by all means, stick to what you enjoy and love doing. But be aware when your body starts feeling tired and tells you to stop. Often enough, when I ask people who complain of exercise pain if they pushed themselves to continue even when they were starting to feel weak or tired, the answer was always "Yes."

When the body has already reached its physical limit and starts sending you signals that it is tired, it is necessary that you begin warming down or wrapping up your game and calling it a day. If not, you run the risk of injuring yourself or finding yourself waking up the next day complaining about exercise pain. Once you begin to experience exercise pain regularly, it won't be long before it develops into chronic pain or worse, a more serious injury.

Also consider that some forms of exercise, especially sports, have a higher risk of causing injuries especially when you do not prepare your body properly beforehand with stretching exercises or correct warm-ups. Foregoing with these necessary preparations are another major cause of exercise pain. So always make it a habit and a discipline to warm up before you exercise as well as warm down at the end of each session. The muscles need to be gently stretched and allowed to loosen up after a rigorous activity to prevent it from causing you exercise pain brought on by muscle stiffness, tightening, adhesions or restrictions.

Exercise pain can certainly be avoided if you know how to listen to your body and respect its limitations. Harness your sense of competitiveness, especially if you engage in competitive sports as a means of exercise, by knowing when to stop. Don't brand yourself as a weakling or a failure because your body just does not feel in top form on certain days -- because that will happen. Your body is not always in the best condition every single day. So protect and care for your body in a practical and wise manner. After all, its the only one you've got and the quality of your life would be so much happier and more fulfilling if you are not limited by an injury or exercise pain.

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