By Miguel J. Ortiz
Even in our childhood we learn a great deal from the pain of soreness and movement. Learning to walk just about requires that you fall as well as improve muscular development. So, it’s easy to see how we must learn to adapt to make progress. When we were young and learning to walk, falling wasn’t so bad when stand barely two feet tall, but how does that learning curve change as we get older? Well, we already understand that as we get older the body changes, especially muscular atrophy, however we also know that consistent activity or exercise throughout one’s life can drastically slow that down. So, what are the best ways to combat and learn from the inevitable muscular soreness that progress can bring?
The natural process of how muscles develop requires a form of stress adaptation. This means that in order for us to get stronger, faster or whatever the exercise goal may be, we are forced to create some consistent change or stress in order for that to happen. For example, if you want to be able to do more push-ups, then a more consistent or weekly planned regiment of push-ups is required for your chest or muscles to develop the ability to change. This goes off the S.A.I.D. principle, which means Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. So whatever imposed demand you force onto the body you will receive a specific adaption. This may sound simple, but it’s the process of that imposed demand that becomes challenging. And in that process is where we learn, develop and ultimately make change. Now that we understand a little more about how the body changes in regards to stress, here are my top two tips on learning from soreness.
First, we must start to pay closer attention to our general awareness of how the body is moving to provide proper recovery. Let’s use the push-up example again and say that the person has never done a push-up. The person needs to learn how to do a push-up and create a plan or routine to develop their chest and other assisting muscles that help make that movement easier. Through the inevitable soreness that one develops from doing push-ups also comes recovery, this is where the awareness comes in. So, if you’re doing push-ups and your sore in your chest then you can conclude you’re doing them right, so some stretching and recovery for your chest and you are back at it. But what if you’re doing push-ups and your shoulders start to hurt. This would mean that compensation took place. You may have been doing push-ups, but not with good form. So, how do we learn to fix it?
Second, by failing forward you can adjust programming, schedule or daily routine without being discouraged. So, your shoulder is hurting from the push-ups and you need to adjust. Great, you have just learned that for some reason you are sorer in one or both shoulders after doing push-ups and that generally doesn’t happen. Well you are already ahead of the curve, just by having the awareness that something doesn’t “feel” right you are now able to make the necessary changes to ensure proper muscular activation. Maybe you take an extra rest day to recover or have someone check on your form. Recognizing that something is wrong gives you the power to change it. The smartest decision you can make is to not push through the pain, but to learn from it and then make a decision on how you will move forward. Trust me, your body will thank you.
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.