You’re getting ready for your first long hike of the summer, or you just came back from a weekend backpacking trip, and your aching legs feel like two by fours. So what are some great ways to deal with soreness and over-used muscles? And as we get older, the rest and recovery periods take that much longer.
Let’s turn to popular multisport coach and best-selling author, Dr. Phil Maffteone, whose new book, In Fitness and In Health, an encyclopedic and holistic guide to self-care, stress management, diet, and fat-burning exercise, also addresses common types of muscle pain as well as smart ways to get back on the trail again.
He writes, “Most pain is due to some mechanical problem and associated with inflammation; these often arise from muscle imbalance. Pain experienced during or immediately after activity usually has a chemical origin. Lactic acid does not cause pain directly, but may be responsible for pH changes associated with pain. Reduced blood flow may also be linked to this type of muscle pain, which will subside quickly once activity is stopped.
“Delayed-onset muscle soreness usually develops within 24 to 48 hours after activity, with a peak in discomfort between 48 and 72 hours. This pain is usually associated with muscle damage. Diminished ranges of motion accompany pain (although muscle dysfunction often continues after pain has resolved).
“Muscle cramps may be due to some type of muscle imbalance, and the reason for the imbalance must be addressed. Proper hydration and the use of sodium or magnesium may be helpful in correcting and preventing muscle cramps, and rarely is potassium or calcium needed. Proper breathing can help prevent and treat diaphragm problems associated with the common side stitch type spasms.”
As for pain rehab and prevention, Maffetone believes that “home treatment of pain associated with physical activity is best accomplished with cold stimulation — soaking the body area(s) in cold water for 10-15 minutes can be miraculous. Ice is not always needed as cold tap water works great and sometimes ice can cause excessive irritation due to freezing the skin. Use the cold stimulation two or three times the first day, once or twice the second. In most cases, pain is significantly improved quickly.
“The use of heat for pain is a common remedy. However, it can do more harm than good. Inflammation can be worsened with the application of heat. Unless you’re quite sure an area is not inflamed, avoid using heat. Most areas of pain, including the joints associated with muscle imbalance, are accompanied by some degree of inflammation.
“Inflammatory pain occurs when fat imbalance produces more pain chemicals — balancing dietary fats (discussed elsewhere) helps prevent chronic inflammation. Low-fat diets can worsen pain and increase the risk of other muscular injury.
“The use of NSAIDs (like Advil, Tylenol and Alleve) should not be a casual thing. Try to avoid any drugs unless absolutely necessary. However, the stress associated with pain may be worse than the drug; in this case the smallest dose for the shortest period of time necessary may be best.
“Simple rubbing of the skin — tactile stimulation — can also control pain. This is ccomplished by lightly stroking the skin at or near an area of pain. If you bump your head, you probably subconsciously rub the area. This stimulates large nerve endings in the skin that can block pain sensation in the brain (the same mechanism as electrical nerve stimulation devices).”
For more fitness and health advice and information, go to www.philmaffetone.com.Share on Facebook