Genuine Recovery - Post Exercise Soreness is What Triggers the Gains

by Dennis Judd, PT, Cert MDT

Springtime is coming – right? One of the telltale signs is the proliferation of articles and books about training for the onslaught of upcoming running and triathlon events. As a physical therapist who has treated runners and athletes in general for over 30 years, I have read these articles with interest and have discussions about them with clients several times a day. Most of the writings are well intended and some of them are helpful. For example, I like the emphasis on remaining active and the encouragement of using a variety of activities in the training process. These articles often create opportunities in the clinic to have discussions about important training recovery and injury prevention strategies.

One book has really caught my eye. I haven’t read it yet (I’m planning to), but I have read excerpts and reviews and it seems to touch on a topic that frequently comes up in the clinic or the gym. This topic, how best to recover from workouts, is important in improving sports performance as well as preventing injuries. Christie Aschwanden’s book, Good to Go .. What the athlete in all of us can learn from the strange science of recovery takes a close look at some of the commonly recommended strategies for addressing post-exercise soreness or fatigue and other aches and pains common to athletes.

One example of the topics addressed in the book is the advice to take over-the-counter-anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medication for post-exercise soreness or the ache that is related to a “rolled ankle.” While this approach is commonly recommended and often used by runners, current published research discourages it. Recent findings show that the chemical process that produces the soreness also triggers the process that enhances healing and allows increased muscle performance to develop. NSAIDs interfere with this process, as does extensive use of ice.

Good to Go helps to explain in detail what we find in our clinic. It tells how most of the stubborn pains that restrict training or limit performance are preventable. Preventable not from doing less training, but by early identification of areas of our body that are mildly stiff (or joints that are obstructed) or weak, and then training them properly to restore normal motion or strength. This approach, similar to managing post exercise soreness without medication or ice, can reduce the pain and improve the health of painful structure, rather than mask the problems.

We find that many folks who struggle with exercise related pain limit their activity in ways that can be unnecessary, or worse, harmful. Ms. Ashwanden’s book seems to lay out the science behind these exercise related aches and pains to help people better understand how to frame muscle and joint pain experienced during and after their workouts. If you’re looking for something to do between workouts, read this book! Maybe you’ll finish it before I do!


The 'Strange Science' Behind The Big Business Of Exercise Recovery. Terry Gross for NPR

Kirkus Reviews

Dennis Judd

Mr. Dennis M. Judd, PT, is a Physical Therapy specialist in Schenectady, New York. He graduated in 1979, having over 40 years of diverse experience, especially in Physical Therapy. Judd also cooperates with other doctors and physicians in medical groups including Mclaughlin Judd Physical Therapy Pllc. He accepts Medicare-approved amount as payment in full. Call (518) 356-7445 to request information (Medicare information, advice, payment, ...) from him or simply to book an appointment.

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