avoiding post-exercise aches
February 25, 2007 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to exert myself excessively this Friday. What can I do to minimise the aches and pains that will leave me a cripple by Sunday?
posted by wilful to Health & Fitness (28 answers total)
What are you going to do? What kind of exercise? How much? What environment?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:57 PM on February 25, 2007

More info would be nice...

The best thing you could do is to go back in time and start training for excessive exertion 6 months ago.

Barring the ability manipulate the space time continuum make sure you eat well and get lots of rest. Some stretching exercises might help as well.
posted by Octoparrot at 4:02 PM on February 25, 2007

Ice any muscles you've strained. Ice doesn't feel as nice as heat but there's nothing to beat fast application of ice. Ice and stretch, more than you think you need to.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:09 PM on February 25, 2007

I'm stupidly playing hockey as part of a work team. So I will be sprinting for twenty minutes a time, in six separate session. After the first ten minutes I will be knocked up, as I am badly out of condition.

Er, 'field' hockey, that is.

Does warming up help? I've heard it doesn't. Warming down, that's useful...
posted by wilful at 4:11 PM on February 25, 2007

Take a couple of Advil/Asprin before exerting youself.

Drink lots of water.

Warm up slowly (with stretching) beforehand.
posted by bitdamaged at 4:13 PM on February 25, 2007

Warming up helps, there's been recent research that suggests that stretching doesn't prevent injuries but may prevent soreness.

posted by bitdamaged at 4:14 PM on February 25, 2007

Warming up helps you not severly hurt yourself, tearing something for instance. Warm down at least twice as much as you think you need to. Warm bath + massage will ease the muscle pain the day after.
posted by dame at 4:16 PM on February 25, 2007

Warming up will help, but probably not much for you, if you are badly out of condition. When I was in condition I used to run 3-4 miles as a "warm-up." DON'T DO THAT!

I agree with above, ice and stretch, get lots of sleep, and eat well. Eating well means eating a meal as quickly after the workout as you can containing a good amount of protein. Don't stress over the details of that. If you're a meat eater, eat some meat.

Other than that... good luck! I know I am the type to get really sore from working out without any conditioning, and the only way I've found to really beat it is to be in condition.
posted by zhivota at 4:16 PM on February 25, 2007

Hydrate well and eat plenty before and after your exertion. Complex carbs, plenty of vegetables, quality proteins and fats before, and simple carbs immediately after. Try 1.5g dextrose per kg body weight, mixed with water, immediately after your exertion. Warm up slowly, taking all of your joints through full ROM as well as performing the movements specific to your activity. Stretch. Try to minimize eccentric muscle contraction during your exertion, and be sure not to just lay down when you're done. Instead, "cool down" by continuing activity at a reduced level. Immediately afterwards, apply ice for 20 minutes on, 20 off, for 2 hours. Start using moist heat after any swelling has gone down (may be a few days). Get a massage Friday evening/night, or Saturday morning. Warm baths with Epsom salt added, and stretching. You can take NSAIDS after the exertion to minimize the pain, but it may actually slow the healing process. Good luck with your excessive exertion!
posted by chudder at 4:21 PM on February 25, 2007

In addition to drinking heaps of water, investigate Voltarin. Speak to your GP.

Start the Voltarin and the Water the day before the exercise.
posted by dantodd at 4:23 PM on February 25, 2007

Is it possible for you to hit the gym now, a few days in advance, and work yourself up to the game? Something nice and easy the first day, and progressively more difficult (all the while eating well and sleeping properly) until Friday, which would leave you in "good shape" to compete?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:27 PM on February 25, 2007

Eat some yogurt or a banana, the potassium will help with muscle cramps.
Soaking in a warm bath with 2 cups of epsom salt ($2 at your local pharmacy) will reduce swelling and sooth any sprains you might get.
A glass of milk afterwards is just enough protein to rebuild any muscles you've torn, a protein shake would be overkill.
The day after, keep moving. Take a slow walk around the block to keep your muscles from seizing up too much.
Have fun, go team, win big!
posted by idiotfactory at 4:28 PM on February 25, 2007

lots of lube!
posted by bizwank at 4:28 PM on February 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice everyone.

Have fun, go team, win big!

Heh, we'll have fun alright, but I don't think we'll break the tradition of coming stone motherless last. This is the Police and Emergency Services games, and some of those cops are pretty rough.
posted by wilful at 4:46 PM on February 25, 2007

I end up with these same obligations from time to time and always end up overexerting myself and paying for it for the next week - or month. I'm going to bookmark this thread. Please update it after Friday and let us know if whatever you tried worked - or didn't.
posted by any major dude at 4:57 PM on February 25, 2007

I was going to say take aspirin or tylenol afterwards, as it helps keep the pumped muscles from just seizing up, I find. I'd add don't take it before (not sure why that suggestion was made -- I'm curious) because the analgesic effect may prevent you recognizing injury or overexertion when it has become really too much. Just based on my experience of various injuries.
posted by Listener at 5:15 PM on February 25, 2007

Please update it after Friday and let us know if whatever you tried worked - or didn't.

Shall do, if I remember.

To summarise, what I'll try and do is eat well beforehand, warm up a lot, drink electrolyte fluids during the games, and a banana, try to be lazy and sub myself off as much as I can, warm down excessively, have a protein hit, take aspirin, have a long hot bath or two, and complain like a bitch all weekend.
posted by wilful at 5:24 PM on February 25, 2007

You left off the masssage. The massage is key.
posted by dame at 5:57 PM on February 25, 2007

Icy Hot and ibuprofen for the win!
posted by J-Train at 6:11 PM on February 25, 2007

I play a lot of ultimate frisbee in 2 day tournaments, and managing the pain between Saturdy and Sunday is always a big topic of discussion.

I've always been told that a hot bath is the worst thing you can do after something like that. It exacerbates the tiny muscle tears. What you should do is soak in an ice bath for about 20 minutes (I think) on Friday night. This is obviously a lot easier to do in a hotel with an ice machine, but you could pick up a couple of bags on your way home. Put the ice in the tub and then add enough cold water to cover yourself.

this question about a knee injury provides more info on hot vs. cold.

Definitely Nth the ibprofen and electrolytes. It wasn't until my second year of playing that I really started drinking Gatorade (I mix a little bit with my water, since too much Gatorade is a bad thing), and there was a huge difference in how I felt on Sunday (and Monday). Pickles and pickle juice serve the same purpose if you're a fan (I hate them, but I've seen people drinking out of jars at tournaments...ug). Also, look into the sports gels -- I like the cappucino flavored Gu.

As far as warming up, I've noticed an increasing number of people doing dynamic warm ups in the last year or so. That is, instead of or in addition to just running a couple of laps, they alternate a series of exercises with jogging/sprints over about 25-30 yard distances. A typical warm-up would go something like this:

a lap or two around the field
high knees
jog back
jog back
side step there and back
skip for height
jog back
jog 50%
run back 75%
run 75%
sprint back
sprint there and back

You can google dynamic warm up for more info.

I'm no sports medicine expert, but I've had a lot of teammates who were studying physical therapy or new a lot about this kind of thing because they were prone to injury, so take this as you will.
posted by natabat at 7:13 PM on February 25, 2007

The suggestion to take the NSAID before was probably made because they work by blocking the body from making pain messengers (prostaglandins) - if you wait to take them once you're in pain, you just have to wait for those pain messengers to clear out of your body naturally before feeling the relief. The NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naprosyn, and aspirin. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) actually isn't an NSAID, so there's no benefit to taking it beforehand. Oh, and the voltaren that somebody mentioned above is an NSAID too, a lot like naprosyn.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:21 PM on February 25, 2007

*knew a lot...

Also, my roommate just reminded me of these pictures.

Click on the last two thumbnails. That would be my captain getting into his ice bath. Not a pleasant experience to be sure, but he always swore by it. I could never bring myself to do it though.
posted by natabat at 7:22 PM on February 25, 2007

Oh, you're in australia. For acetaminophen, read, paracetamol, I think.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:23 PM on February 25, 2007

One more thing. I'd skip the tylenol if you've had more than a couple of alcoholic drinks since that combo is hell on the liver. But if you are finding that an NSAID alone isn't cutting it, it's ok to take an NSAID plus tylenol, since they work by different mechanisms.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:28 PM on February 25, 2007

warming up is good if you're feeling stiff. it could just be some jogging or jumping jacks or something.

stretch. not crazy stretching, just get everything to flex and contract a couple of times to fend off any cramps lying in wait.

start doing a little physical activity now, like walking home from work or something. just get the joints used to being used.

do stop or take a break if you feel something's not working right. if your back is really tight or sore, or your knee is really starting to bother you, take a break and put some ice on right then.

later, ice, hydrate, lots of ibuprofen, and yes, the banana does work. stretch periodically through the night. once you've rehydrated, a beer would probably taste mighty fine. enjoy it. take a hot shower to relax yourself. sleep in. in the morning, take a bath with epsom salts, and enjoy some low-impact sex if circumstances permit. take a long slow walk on saturday. stretch. take note of any injuries that might need ice and ice them, and any stiff muscles that might need heat and put a heat wrap on them. continue with the ibuprofen for a couple of days. keep walking and stretching on sunday--it may be even worse. take another epsom bath if it's bad.

assuming you haven't actually injured anything, you should be fully upright and functional by monday!
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:41 PM on February 25, 2007

Stretch for 10-20 minutes immediately afterwards.
posted by hootch at 9:16 PM on February 25, 2007

A lite work out the next two days has helped me when ever I wasn't in shape.
posted by meta x zen at 9:04 AM on February 26, 2007

Well for those still reading, I survived with no injuries. I could hardly move on saturday but I am fine now. Ibuprofen, electrolytes, warming up and warming down keeps the worst at bay.

It's very hard to manage though, having half a dozen short games over a whole day.

Proud to say we didn't come last, in fact I played forward for the first time and bagged a few.
posted by wilful at 2:48 PM on March 5, 2007

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