I overdid it the other day. Actually three days ago, I pushed myself too far in my run and then tossed in a flight of 170 stairs up and over a sand dune. I really thought, after months and months on elliptical machines and stairmasters that running on the ground and climbing real stairs was well within my capability.
It turns out machines and the events they imitate are not exactly the same. We use slightly different muscles for stairs than for stairmasters (especially walking DOWN stairs), and it’s those different muscles that hurt so much today that I am distracted with pain and walking with great difficulty.
This makes me feel silly. I should know better than to overdo exercise. I work hard to listen to my body, but there’s some little part of me that still wants to “play through the pain.”
We should never, ever play through the pain. If your sore muscles or joints don’t loosen up within a few minutes of beginning your exercise for the day, then slow down or stop, and try something less challenging that day.
Playing through the pain, we get hurt. Getting hurt sidelines us, reducing our ability to work out as often as we need to keep the calorie burn going, slowly increasing our endurance and our metabolisms.
My calves are too sore even to look at, much less touch, stretch, or massage today. So I haven’t run or walked in three days. That’s three days of lowered calorie needs.
Muscles all over my legs are tight and warm with inflammation and fluid retention. At least I know enough not to get on the scale right now. I know I’m likely retaining 2-5 lbs. of fluid as my body works to deal with this injury. The weight gain would add insult to my injury.
Because that’s what DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, signifies. It’s the steadily worsening stiffness-to-pain you get when you overwork a muscle, tearing the little muscle fibers within it. It’s an injury, and your body treats it as it would any injury, rushing fluid and protection, fuel and white blood cells to the area to promote healing. The pain, which peaks within 24-72 hours of injury, is a signal to leave that muscle alone for a while as your body does the fixing.
I’m sidelined. That means I’ll have to eat a lot less to make up for not working out. This is a double-whammy: pain and lack of food. I’m not going to like it.
I’ve learned my lesson. I just wish I didn’t have to keep relearning it.