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Dr. Rick's Health Tip of the Month

May 1999

Minimizing Sore Muscles

By Rick Allen, DC

Would you like to avoid that tired, achy feeling you may have experienced 24 to 48 hours after vigorous exercise? Technically, it is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. Here are five simple suggestions that can help you instead feel great the day after any athletic activity:

Warm up -- Start with a slow warm up. A foxtrot will do nicely. Cold muscles suddenly put to work are more likely to become damaged than ones that have been warmed up properly. Warming up gradually will increase your heart and breathing rates, increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles before you begin to work them hard. In addition, your joints secrete more synovial fluid and become less stiff. The body is properly adapting to the demands of exercise.

Stretch -- Between dances, do a bit of stretching. You can do some beneficial stretches unobtrusively even when dressed nicely. Slowly bend down, reaching for your toes. Hang forward, counting to 15. Let gravity do the stretching. Don't force the stretch. Then lean over to each side, making a giant letter "C", again for 15 seconds. Then bend your knees and shift from side to side, stretching the groin muscles. Lastly, roll your shoulders around a couple of times. Now youíre ready for more vigorous dancing!

Drink lots of water -- During the dance, be sure to drink lots of water. Without enough water, your body doesn't function optimally. You "wilt," much like a plant that needs water. Avoid alcohol, which is a diuretic, stealing water from your body. The same goes for coffee or soda with caffeine.

Increase your activity gradually -- In general, do not increase the intensity or duration of your dancing more than 10% in a week. Do not increase both intensity and duration during the same week. Allow your body to recover properly and adapt slowly to improved performance levels.

Dance frequently -- Lastly, I have found the best strategy to minimize sore muscles is to exercise frequently -- dancing 2 or 3 times a week! Doctorís orders!

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