How painful does an exercise have to be to see results?

How painful does an exercise have to be to see results?

“No pain, no gain” or “only the strong survive” are some of the most popular phrases among fitness lovers who argue that to have a defined, solid and worked body, they must suffer. But, what degree of certainty do these sayings have? Is affliction synonymous with training? How much does exercise have to hurt for it to be effective?

In this regard, Alejandra Hintze, a sports doctor and member of the Argentine Association of Sports Doctors, responds bluntly: “There can be no pain during exercise or in the following days beyond some temporary discomfort that should not affect the person in daily life.” With this first point clarified, the expert goes deeper: “It is one thing to feel that your muscles have been worked and that you have strength, and another is to not be able to move.” Therefore, although muscle fatigue is expected during and after physical activity, especially if it is intense, the alarms should go off when muscle pain disables daily activities and is persistent.

For his part, Ignacio Valloni, a physical trainer, defines pain as “a wake-up call that the body has to warn us that something is happening.” Many times, the coach adds, there is a false belief that for a workout to be useful it has to hurt. But the truth is that while it is normal to feel inflamed or somewhat fatigued muscles after training, “the reality is that it should not become an acute discomfort.”Valloni explains. In this sense, when faced with pain during or after exercising, the key is to focus on whether or not it is limiting and to ask yourself: “Does it allow me to continue working or is the exhaustion so excessive that I have to stop?” ”.

Faced with this revealing panorama, the specialists consulted detail what pain is to be expected while exercising and the following days and how to tell if the limit has been crossed.

Pain during exercise

“While training, pain is always classified as bad,” Hintze says. To perform the exercises effectively, “the muscles should not bother,” adds the specialist. Otherwise, it is a warning sign that the movement is not being performed correctly or that it is more vigorous than the person can handle.

If this happens, tension will build up in the body and in the long run it can cause severe pain and even lead to injury. Faced with this feeling of suffering, “the muscle will have a hard time contracting, so if it continues to be forced, it will become more stressed and the discomfort will increase,” adds the doctor.

While training, there should be no body pain

According to Valloni, “no one has to exercise in pain.” And beyond highlighting that it is good when the training is demanding and the person challenges themselves, it is important to note that when faced with muscle discomfort, “it is necessary to finish or change the activity as soon as possible because perhaps you are not using it.” the correct weight or sometimes the technique is being developed poorly,” he specifies.

The days after

Feeling stiff, heavy or somewhat swollen muscles the day after training is common and is part of the training process. However, the problem arises when the pain appears 48 or 72 hours later and is acute and can cause an injury.

This situation, says Hinzte, is called “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS). When this happens, it means that “you overdid it in the last training session,” the specialist emphasizes. Among the signs that warn of this and that differentiate it from “normal” pain, the doctor specifies: “The discomfort does not subside even while at rest or with rest and when I squeeze or stretch the muscle, it hurts.” Furthermore, once it starts, it takes more than 12 hours to disappear.

To recover muscles from pain, rest is essential

Asked about the origin of DOMS, specialists point out that on the one hand it has to do with the degree of muscle damage that occurred during training sessions, especially when the muscles did not recover: “While exercising, muscle fibers break. and connective tissue that are then rebuilt and regenerated, even of better quality than the previous ones, which causes the muscle to become stronger,” says Hintze.

“However, the excessive accumulation of those tears during the healing process causes physical stress,” Hintze mentions and explains that the only way to calm it is through rest. Otherwise, “if you return to the ring the next day, the muscle supercompensation process is cut off and the pain increases,” the doctor points out.

Another factor that triggers pain two or three days after exercise, “is having practiced eccentric contraction movements where the muscle contracts while it is stretched, for example when descending a ladder, a box or flexing the arms,” adds Hintze.

Lastly, the specialists point out, it can also occur due to having changed the routine for a more advanced and complex one where the physique is even more compromised or, if you are a person who is just starting out in the world of sports and Your body is not completely accustomed to the movements.

How to train safely?

As Valloni points out, Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is avoided with well-planned and consistent training. On this path, he emphasizes: “You have to take care of the technique of the exercises at all times as well as pay attention to the posture with which they are executed.” Furthermore, “it is necessary to choose the appropriate weight taking into account the possibilities and physical condition of each person,” comments the trainer and highlights the need for, at least in the beginning, to be guided and supervised by a professional.

In this regard, Hintze agrees and adds the importance of routines being progressive and appropriate to each person. Throughout the month, “the loading and unloading periods should vary to avoid straining the muscles,” he says. Generally, the first week of the month is performed with greater amounts of weight, sets and repetitions, and as they pass, they should be gradually reduced. “This allows the body to recover quickly,” Hintze clarifies.

Another strategy, say specialists, is to warm up before starting to train and they advise allocating between five and ten minutes to this moment. In this way there begins to be greater blood flow in the muscles, which makes them more flexible. In addition to this, they also insist on the benefits of stretching once the practice is finished, to prevent the muscles from shortening. In this process, in addition to stretching, you can pass a rubber roller over your legs, massage yourself, or expose yourself to cold water.

Diego Demarco, specialist in exercise physiology and high performance, suggests taking the amount of time that each person considers necessary to stretch. Additionally, it encourages focusing on conscious breathing and loosening each muscle that was worked for an average of 30 to 90 seconds. “When you finish working, the muscle is a shorter distance than when you started, so it is important to bring it back to its original size,” adds the expert. Otherwise, he explains that there is a possibility that it will be contractured and that in the next session it will be contracted, which will limit the production of force and will be more prone to tearing.

Physical exercise is one of the fundamental pillars to enjoy good health and quality of life. Without a doubt, creating a habit around training will bring infinite benefits in the short and long term. On this path, the important thing is not to fall into extremes to avoid becoming fatigued. The important thing to sustain it over time is consistency, discipline and progression.

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