2016-03-01 / Fitness

How to recover from exercise

By Dr. Leonard J. Somarriba, D.P.T, C.S.C.S. and Dr. John Scafidi, P.T, D.P.T, FAAOMPT

Exercise tends to break down muscle fibers while rest allows muscles to recuperate and emerge stronger. The appropriate amount of exercise, followed by recovery, leads to an ongoing cycle of improvement over time. Strength and endurance improve, creating a foundation for long-term health.

It doesn’t matter if you want to reduce body fat, improve strength, increase flexibility, or simply feel better; the first step is to determine the correct intensity and duration of exercise.The right combination of intensity and duration, combined with recovery, will help you reach your health and fitness goals. Unlike bones and joints, muscles have a great deal of blood supply. Muscles can regenerate and respond quickly to the demands of exercise. A physical therapist can design a well-planned exercise program that strengthens muscles while preventing overload of the bones and joints (likely to cause pain and injuries).

Typically, resistance training (using weights or one’s own body weight) tends to be a high-intensity exercise and helps build strength. Conversely, aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming tend to be lower in intensity; they improve cardiovascular endurance and reduce body fat. In either case, it is important to use the principles of the “rapid recovery blueprint” to help the body heal quickly.

How do you know when you’ve done too much, or too little? Let’s start by understanding the difference between soreness and pain. Soreness is a dull, aching sensation that usually occurs after exercise. Sometimes it sets in the following day, other times it sets in later. Soreness is your body telling you,“You made me do too much, and I need time to rest.”This is not a bad thing. In fact, some soreness should be expected, since the body releases stored chemicals. Delayed onset muscle soreness

(DOMS) is more likely to occur if you try new exercises or exert yourself more than you should. Soreness decreases with the appropriate amount of rest, nutrition and hydration. Over time, the body adapts, and the same exercise routine causes less soreness.At this point, it is important to mix things up by trying different exercises and varying intensity and duration to continually challenge the body.

While soreness is expected, pain after exercise is not. In fact, pain is a warning sign that something is not right. Perhaps you did too much or did something that damaged the body. Pain after exercise tends to be sharp and localized to one area. It tends to persist and sometimes get worse.You should never exercise through the pain since doing so can lead to severe injuries. If you experience pain during exercise, stop right away and consult with a physical therapist. A therapist will identify what caused the pain, and tell you how to get it right going forward.

The traditional notion of the word ‘recovery’ is getting better after injuries. Recovery is a much broader term that impacts our day to day lives.The fact is, any exercise that challenges your body can cause soreness.To recover from soreness, you need to follow the rapid recovery blueprint designed by your physical therapist. If you are physically active or about to start exercise, have an initial evaluation. A physical therapist will identify and correct your posture and exercise technique.He or she will teach you the right way to warm up and stretch before exercise. He or she will also evaluate your footwear and gait patterns, so they can make recommendations about the way you walk and run.

Injury prevention and rapid recovery are two sides of the same coin. A physical therapist will teach you how to prevent injury. He or she will also teach you how to balance exercise, healthy eating habits, and rest to become a healthy, stronger version of your current self. Most importantly, he or she will show you how to push past your limits, but in a controlled manner so that you don’t hurt yourself. A plan will be created to help you recover as quickly as possible while making you aware of all warning signs. Seek immediate diagnosis from a physician if your pain:

- persists after 12 to 48 hours of cold packs and rest

- is sharp and limits movement

- is accompanied by numbness, weakness, or swelling of the joint

Dr. Leonard J. Somarriba D.P.T., C.S.C.S., and Dr. John Scafidi P.T, D.P.T, FAAOMPT are owners of ProFysio Physical Therapy LLC. For more information, call 732-970-7882 or visit www.profysionj.com. ProFysio has two locations: 1212 Route 34, Suite 24-25, Aberdeen; and 2124 Route 35 south, Holmdel.

Return to top