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Exercise and Fitness

Sore muscles after lifting

12/30/2002

Question:

I started weight training at 53. Now nearly 63, and wonder if it takes longer for sore muscles to heal after heavy lifting the older we get? I had to take 2.5 weeks off recently, and on returning, ripped my quads so bad(with less weight than I`d been doing for over a year), that after 3 days, they`re still sore. Same with my pectorals. I`ve done this before, so I`m confident they`ll heal and be stronger, but I wonder if all males have this same problem? Also, is there anything I could have done to lessen the soreness? They were so sore I could barely touch them. Thank you.

Answer:

It is true that younger individuals recover faster from sore muscles than older folks. Regardless of age, all individuals must know the signs of acute overtraining. These include decreased performance, loss of coordination, prolonged recovery, and muscle soreness or tenderness. Muscle soreness is a good indicator that you have overextended yourself and that you should take it easy during your next workout. I am not sure if you consulted with your personal physician relative to your condition, but if you ever experience a sharp, continuous pain, or pain accompanied by a burning sensation, stop lifting immediately and have it checked out.

I would like to take this opportunity to review the basics of proper strength training. According to The American College of Sports Medicine`s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (6th edition), muscular strength is developed by using weights that evoke maximal or nearly maximal muscle tension with relatively few repetitions. They also define muscular endurance as being best developed by using lighter weights with a greater number of repetitions. To improve in both muscular strength and endurance, most experts recommend 8 to 12 repetitions for healthy participants under 50 to 60 years of age and 10 to 15 repetitions for individuals older than 50 to 60 years of age. Keep in mind, a well-rounded exercise program involves all components of fitness including cardiovascular conditioning, muscular strength and/or muscular endurance, and flexibility.

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Response by:

Carolyn   Nickol, RD, MEd Carolyn Nickol, RD, MEd
Director
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati