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Archive for March, 2012

An argument for rest

When you work your muscles hard, you are literally weaker the next day.

About a month ago I took an aerobics class to combat the winter doldrums. It was fun, challenging and I was  sore for at least 3 days. The next day, with my walk stiff from the sore muscles, I rolled my left ankle on an uneven section of pavement (fortunately nothing serious). I am sure that you also have pushed yourself in a race or workout session to the point of muscles soreness the next day. Are you familiar with what could be called the “down-the-stair-wince”? You step down and your leg locks a bit and your knee feels slightly over-extended? You walk carefully and aim to hold a railing, but the knee lock still happens. It doesn’t hurt exactly, but it feels wrong. You brace yourself against it, but… *wince* there goes the knee!

In the beginning of my career as an exerciser, I was surprised that going down the stairs was worse than going up when I was sore. Now I know that walking down slope or down stairs is harder. There was an article that of course I can’t find that talked about Boston marathon times not being eligible for a world record because of the downhill drop (alternate article) but how ironically running downhills is hard and one year the leading woman could not go one after running the downhills hard because her hamstrings froze up (alternate article). Aha, that’s why going down the stairs causes me more dread than going up the stairs when I am sore!

Don’t get me wrong, I like when my muscles feel sore. But people need to be aware that you really shouldn’t do two extreme workouts in a row. And as my experience proves, you even need to be careful when you walk on the sidewalk! Weak muscles can not support your joints as well as when they are rested and recovered. You are more likely to overextend your legs or roll an ankle after a hard workout or race. Do not ignore rest days in an exercise schedule.

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Categories: recovery, training