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28 Jul 2006

In Pain after first gym session
Hi

I started at gym 2 weeks ago. I went for my first session with a personal trainer on Wed. Yesterday I was a bit sore but today I cant even fold my arms.

She did not push me and I did not push myself.

I know you are meant to be a bit sore when you start exercising (which I have never done!) but is it normal that you cant even bend your arms because your muscles are so sore.

Also I must do upper body again tonight. How can I do it if I cant even steer my car!
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Expert
FitnessDoc
fitnessdoc

01 Jan 0001

Hi there

While I can appreciate your concern and discomfort, there is actually nothing at all abnormal about the way you are feeling. Perhaps you overdid it very slightly in that first session but to feel stiff and sore the day or two after the first time you train is very very normal.

The reason this happens is because when you exercise muscle, the muscle is contracting and then relaxing, shortening and lengthening. And as this happens, the weaker muscle fibers actually get very tiny tears in them. The day after, the body is attempting to fix up all these very tiny microscopic tears and there is considerable pain and senstivitiy involved. What will then happen is that over the next few sessions, the pain will subside because your muscles are made stronger by all these processes that repair tears in them.

now, quite why you are this sore is hard to say. I suspect it has something to do with the type of training you did in this session on Wednesday. THere are certain movements that involve what are called eccentric contractions - this is where the muscle lengthens as it contracts. Downhill running, for example, causes this, and that's why people are a lot more stiff after running downhill a long way. The irony is that during the session, you will feel pretty good!

As for what to do now, take a few days off, until the pain goes away. I know this may seem frustrating and a waste, but you need to give the body times to adjust and get over the pain. Then, next time you train, you should find it a lot better.

Finally, just to make a correction, it is not lactic acid that causes this pain, because we know from measurements that all the lactic acid that is produced in the muscles during exercise is completely gone within about 30 minutes of finishing and so if there is pain the next day, it cannot be lactic acid, there is none left. Also, the whole thing about downhill running, as I discussed, is that it causes more stiffness, but the lactic acid levels are actually lower than if you run uphill. But then you don't get stiff. So lactic acid is not to blame

But hang in there, the pain will go away and you will be stronger for it!

Good luck
Ross
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