Decoding Exercise Pains: What They Mean and Don’t Mean

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Exercise

Being human can suck sometimes. 

Translation? We’re hard-wired to feel pain. And you can’t always pop a pill, get a massage or down five cocktails to stop it.

When you get your sweat on, shit can hurt. Do you ignore it? Battle through? Listen? Stop? Here are five common symptoms you might come across while working out. And no, pain doesn’t always mean it’s time to crap out. Listen to your body, and consider the following:

1. Headache. Dome hurts? A sharp headache that starts in the middle of spin class typically means one of three things:  you’re moving toxins out of your kidneys (like that jumbo-sized margarita you killed last night), you’re holding stress in your neck or your dumb ass isn’t hydrated enough. If you’re doing cardio, take a sip of water, then lightly fold forward over your standing legs. Let your head and neck dangle, and breathe. Drink more water after the workout (always hydrate before), and leave the headaches at the office.

2. Nausea. Worst. Feeling. Ever. But it probably does not mean you’re with child. Nope, bile is being released from the liver to the small intestine — meaning, uh, you’re getting rid of the toxic crap inside. Woohoo. Slow down the pace a bit and breathe deeply with your lips closed. Try to focus the breath on your belly. Keep going like this and the lose-your-lunch feeling will pass.

3. Cramp. Not like, your period. Cramps usually mean a lack of electrolytes, potassium and hydration. When you feel one coming on, slow down, lift your arms up alongside your ears and breathe 10 very deep breaths in and out of your nose. Visually imagine the breath going to the center of the cramp. After your sweat sesh, make sure you eat a banana — and try half a banana every day for a few days to recharge your body with the nutrients it was asking for.

4. Back pain. So many people come to me with lower back pain that started after doing something dumb during a workout. If this has happened to you, make sure you learn proper technique, whether it’s in yoga class or at the boxing gym. As a rule of thumb, when you are in a spin or cardio class, try to bend forward using your abs, not using your lower back. In essence, suck your abdomen up and in, and then reach forward. When you are bending backward (hello, bridge pose), take the back bend completely out of your lower back – we’re almost all too mobile there anyway. Focus instead on finding a back bend in your upper thoracic and lumbar spines.

5. Mental wimp out. Can’t do it no more? This is the most intense sensation you can get when you’re exerting your body, but remember that hard physical exercise comes from the power of your brain. Your mind is stronger than your body, but your body knows it can trick your brain into thinking you should stop. Truth is, you may not be feeling any true pain at all. So what do you do? Learn the difference between true pain andsensation. WTF does that mean? Pain is usually shooting, sharp and hot (like, oh shit, I just broke my arm). Sensation is more like a feeling of fatigue or pushing beyond what you normally are comfortable with. If you pay attention, you’ll eventually learn the difference.


 

Lauren Imparato, Fitness Contributor
In Spring 2009 Lauren resigned her job at Morgan Stanley to launch I.AM.YOU., a lifestyle brand and yoga studio in Little Italy, Manhattan. Lauren teaches intense, fun, and athletic Vinyasa classes, each set to a unique Music Mix designed by I.AM.YOU.’s Resident Mixologist. Lauren graduated with an Advanced Certification from Conquering Lion Yoga and received a secondary Advanced Certification from Kula Yoga School. She also has a Certificate in Advanced Studies Yoga Anatomy, is a graduate of the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She holds an Intermediate Level Certificate from the International Wine Center and a BA from Princeton University in Romance Languages and Literatures. Tweet Lauren @IAMYOUstudio or follow her on Facebook.

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One Response to “Decoding Exercise Pains: What They Mean and Don’t Mean”

  1. December 11, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    What about muscle pains from a previous workout? Is it still ok to workout? Or is that a sign to take a rest day?

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