I strain a muscle too frequently when I exercise. How am I supposed to get stronger?
posted by jessicapierce to health & fitness (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Lost 45 pounds, looking to lose 20 more, though my priority is to get leaner and stronger. I lost the 45 through long walks and common-sense dietary changes. After neglecting the walks during winter, I've taken up using a treadmill every day. I have not been sedentary, but this is the first focused exercise I've had in a few months. My body does not seem to be taking it well, which frustrates me, as I WANT to be able to keep this up. In most ways, I feel the healthiest I have in years. Sleep, skin, energy level, regularity, outlook on life, and the shape of my ass are all doing great.
I am down with the idea of pushing myself, and I know I need to do so in order to build muscle, stamina, etc. My sleep is amazing when I thoroughly tire myself out every once in a while.
The problem is that every time I extend myself, either through intensity or duration of workout, I end up with a minor strain* that makes exercising more difficult, or impossible, in the short term. I don't mean general muscle soreness (which I also have, but it feels appropriate), I mean very specific twinges, bigger pains, and stiffness that feels inappropriate and something I am liable to make worse.
These are not issues that show up during a workout, but the next day. If anything feels "off" while I'm walking, I slow or stop.
I don't feel like I'm asking too much of my body. I warm up first, increase speed and grade very gradually, and do not stay on for massive amounts of time. I have been using the treadmill about 5 days a week, generally for about 45 minutes, or 30 minutes twice. This is brisk to very fast walking. I've tried adding occasional bursts of running, but have cut that out until I am stronger or lighter (knees were painful and stiff the next day).
I do plan to mix it up with different exercises soon - I know walking alone is not the best way to condition the whole body. Still, I feel I should be able to do a whole hell of a lot of it without feeling frail. People in NYC do it every day.
I'm 34, female, and healthy. I'm not on any medications and my nutrition is great. I don't take vitamins, but if anyone has suggestions, I'd gladly look into it. Ive heard magnesium and potassium can help with muscle cramps. I wouldn't call these cramps, but might supplements help? Could they hurt?
What can I do to make my body stronger? What am I doing wrong here? How does one properly exhaust oneself without doing damage? I really feel like I'm missing something other people must know. Not to take reality tv as gospel, but how is it possible for the obese, sedentary people on Biggest Loser to jump right into running, without similar issues? All they seem to suffer is exhaustion and muscle soreness.
*Upper/lower back have occasionally felt tight and agonizing for day or so. I do not mess around with back pain. I was careful, laid off the exercise, and these issues cleared up quickly. The more irritating problem is an intermittent tightness in my left calf. This is not a charley horse nor spasm. It responds well to massage, heat, Icy Hot, and ibuprofen, but it is not going away, and it's been bothering me for about 5 days.
I'm not limping, but it is getting in the way of my workout. I don't know whether it's best to rest the muscle and let it heal, or gently "work through" it. I did lay off the treadmill for the last 48 hours, then took a gentle half-hour walk this morning which felt good. The tightness eased but never disappeared completely. Am I making this worse or better?
I'm not asking for specific medical advice on this (though any help is welcome), but if anyone can tell me what this is called, I'd be grateful. I'm more than willing to google it myself, I just dont know what it is. "Shin splints" seem to have a broader definition than I thought, so that's my best guess. Oh, and I have good sneakers, and there's nothing freaky about my feet or stride.