time is the thing a body moves through
October 2, 2021 1:19 PM   Subscribe

i'm back to a fairly high level of athletic activity, yay! except this time i'm in my 30s, not a teenager, and I feel pretty sore a lot of the time, oof! what should I know about general body care/wellness playing sports in my 30s?

in the past decade, I've generally averaged closer to a "once or twice a week mild exercise, maybe 3-4 times a month more vigorous exercise" balance. over the summer and especially over the last month, i've increased that to a more intensive schedule:
> 2x a week full intensity playing basketball (for 45min-2hours each time)
> 1-2x a week bouldering (still very new, loving it so far!) (for ~2 hours each time)

i've been gradually turning up the dial, so I don't think I'm at risk of an immediate injury or burning out. but while I've been improving my endurance, I also notice that I'm pretty diffusely sore a lot of time on my 3-5 off days a week. (more like, ack my body is achey and i'm pretty weak, not like, bright injury pain). is this... to be expected? a sign that i'm putting myself in the Injury Danger Zone and should do something differently?

i do sort of general stretches before activities, but not always after. (I also don't know what i'm doing on the stretching front!?!) i also am not super mindful about what i eat before or during working out. and i think in general, I don't really know much about taking care of my 32-year-old body, which sounds kind of silly. but i'd like to be! i find this way of spending time with people and myself to be deeply rewarding and fun and i want to keep doing it for as many decades as I can manage.

if there's any good reads/watches/general words of wisdom, i'd be eager for them. thank you!!
posted by elephantsvanish to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If your joints hurt, taking glucosamine and chondritin can help. I know some weekend warrior athletes who take 2-3 times the recommended dose - they say it helps with no noticeable ill effects.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:45 PM on October 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

I could swear this article was linked off the NYTimes front page just today, but apparently it's from 2017. It's about how rhabdomyolysis is growing more common as pushing yourself really hard has become more of a thing: "in general it occurs when people simply do not give their muscles time to adjust to an aggressive new exercise".

So definitely warm up well and listen to your body.
posted by trig at 2:47 PM on October 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don't stretch cold muscles. Before exercise, do some range of motion exercises (rotate your joints) but don't stretch - do that after exercise, once your muscles are warmed up. If you do really want to stretch your muscles before your main activity, do 5-10 minutes of gentle cardio first (eg. brisk walking, working up to a gentle jog) and then once you've warmed up a bit, stretch. You can find plenty of stretch routines online.

Foam rolling after exercise is useful to aid recovery - plenty of YouTube videos available to guide you on that too. Nothing super-complicated needed, just roll the muscles that worked hard over the roller to massage them. You can focus on the bits that you think are going to hurt most.

If you're genuinely sore on all your days off, that suggests you're ramping up intensity too quickly - you'd usually expect to get DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness, the kind of achy soreness that peaks 2 days after activity) the first time you start a new form of exercise, but after that not so much unless you suddenly introduce something new. 2 hours of bouldering sounds like a long time, for example, if you're new to it, though I guess that depends on how much of that time you spend on the wall. I'd aim for more like 45 minutes to start with and increase gradually week on week.

I can't access the NYT article, but AFAIK, "rhabdo" is extreme and not ilkely to occur from normal levels of exercise - it happens when people do really massive amounts out of the blue and push way, way, past the point they should stop (as often happened when Crossfit appeared on the scene) and results in people's muscles basically starting to liquefy and poisoning them. it needs hospital attention and an IV, for minor cases, greater intervention for the more serious.

Much more likely of concern at your level of exercise is that you're going to carry on being uncomfortable between sessions, and/or get injured from ramping up too quickly. It's worth remembering that it's not only the obvious things like your lungs and muscles that you have to strengthen when you start to exercise: Your tendons and ligaments also need time to adjust to the new strain, and if you don't pace yourself steadily, one of them is inclined to ping when you suddenly brake and turn on the basketball court, even though your muscles were feeling fine.

Food-wise, general wisdom is that you should have a small snack of about 2/3 carbs, 1/3 protein shortly after you finish exercising - there's a window of time after exercise when your body is particularly quick at taking in nutrients to replenish those it's spent, so if you can snack then, you'll feel less fatigue afterwards and the next day.
posted by penguin pie at 3:24 PM on October 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Don’t not rest. You could do that in your teens and twenties. You are no longer that and don’t pretend you’ll ever get back there. Make rest part of your schedule now, or your schedule will require rest later, more than you will want to take.

You have a fantastic opportunity to put into place now habits that will allow you to continue to enjoy exercise into old age.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 4:37 PM on October 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've also seen the "range of motion exercises" penguin pie mentioned referred to as "dynamic stretching," which may return more search results. This is different from the traditional "static stretching" which are probably the kind of stretches most people think of.
posted by typify at 5:41 PM on October 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Be aware that connective tissue adaptations take much longer than muscular ones, so bouldering is going to still be really stressful on your body even as you get stronger! Be sure you’re getting plenty of recovery time specifically from your climbing.
posted by hollyholly at 8:10 AM on October 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm older than you, so this might not be a necessity yet, but I have a regular check-in with a physical therapist. They notice things I hadn't noticed yet and help me fix them before they get to be bad habits. I go to a place that's very sportsy, so they understand that I'm not just trying to stay mobile as I age but that I have athletic goals.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:06 PM on October 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

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