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How to Know Your Body’s Way of Telling You to Slow Down
Let’s be honest, having sore muscles after an intense workout feels satisfying. You finally feel the worth of all those hours doing crunches, extra squats, cardio exercises, and stretching burn through your body. Post-workout muscle soreness is a normal reaction to training, but when the slightly uncomfortable burn becomes increasingly painful and lasts longer than it should, it is time to stop and ask yourself whether you are experiencing a fitness injury rather than a post-workout burn and whether your body is telling you to slow down a bit.
We spoke to our fitness experts and here’s what you need to know about crushing your workouts the right way.
Know the difference between an injury and overtraining
A workout injury can happen to anyone, no matter your experience or fitness level. Common workout injuries include muscle pull and strain, a sprained ankle, shoulder or knee injuries, wrist pain, or dislocation, among others.
Overtraining happens when you perform more training than your body can recover from, to the point where performance declines and you reach a chronic phase where several weeks of rest are needed.
Ease into new and challenging workouts
Progress slowly with new or challenging workouts, and take it easy on doing too much too soon. Gradual Progressive Overload and FITT are key principles in fitness. GPO refers to gradually increasing your FITT components (frequency intensity time and type of exercise). The rule of thumb is to keep your workouts challenging without withstanding extreme physical discomfort, allowing your body to get stronger and more fit while gradually adapting to new challenges with a low risk of injury and optimal recovery.
Listen to your body.
“I can keep going, but it feels slightly uncomfortable” versus “I am pushing myself way past my tolerance level” are key metrics to pay attention to when working out. If you experience sharp pain during your workout, or if the soreness doesn’t start improving after a few days, that can be a sign that you’re actually injured and need medical care.
While you’re training, it’s important to watch for signs of a serious injury. If you notice prolonged muscle pain, swelling, or bruising, it’s time to give your body some well-deserved rest.