By Dr. Ira Shapiro, Director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center in Old Bridge, New Jersey
Nearly 30 years ago, millions of Americans everywhere joined the physical fitness craze that was fueled by celebrities in tight fitting leotards selling their latest workout videos, clubs masquerading as gyms and an overabundance of catch phrases such as “no pain, no gain” and “feel the burn.”
While some of these trends never seem to end, it’s fortunate that the wellness industry has greatly advanced in recent years not only with a new array of game-changing procedures and technologies, but with a mindset that has replaced the dated expressions of the past with a mindset specifically driven by a “no brain, no gain” mantra. Think about it. Once upon a time and decades ago, an overabundance of water was not a mainstay of many athletic practice sessions and salt tablets were given as supplements. Likewise, pushing every workout to the limit was a sign of endurance and toughness.
Today, we know better or at least we should. During the course of exercise, lactic acid builds around a muscle to cause a burning sensation and eventual fatigue. This is common in activities like weightlifting and normally results in the inability to perform more repetitions. A proper warmup before exercising will not only lower the collection of lactic acid, but will most likely enhance durability without the burning sensation. Stretching properly after exercise can also greatly reduce next day muscle soreness symptoms.
However, never mistake pain for burn. Pain should not be ignored under any circumstance. In fact, a sharp pain is the body’s way of signaling the brain that something is wrong. It is imperative to stop the activity immediately. Individuals ranging from seasoned athletes to beginners, no matter the age and level of fitness, should never try to play through pain. Hoping an injured elbow or hamstring will get better on its own without the suitable treatment and rest can result in months or even years of distress.
In fact, the longer any injury goes untreated, the more likely it is that the brain will accept it as “the new normal.” Therefore, if optimum function for life is the goal, treatment should be sooner, rather than later.
This is also true for even seemingly mild injuries, where swelling and pain generally subside after 48 – 72 hours. Unfortunately, many chronic injuries can result in nagging problems that persist for years when ignored, simply overlooked or mistakenly believed to be healed after a few days of rest, ice and painkillers. This is especially common with overuse injuries that develop slowly, gain in severity with each new trauma and grow increasingly difficult to heal without the proper treatment.
Furthermore, don’t be fooled just because the inflammation disappears and the range of motion returns after just a few short days. Most intelligent athletes spend their entire careers working on improved flexibility, strength and coordination training. In addition, age is not an ally. Recuperation for older adults takes even longer whether you run marathons, bike three days a week or play tennis on the weekend.
So, always error on the side of smart. Seek the advice and care of a certified medical professional. And, don’t accept pain as a way of life. There is always a new path to wellness. The trick is finding the pathway that works best for you.
For more information on obtaining a better, fitter and pain-free life filled with your favorite activities please contact the Plaza Chiropractic Center at 732-723-0023 or visit www.plazachiro.com. Our trained staff will be happy to work with you, no matter your age or condition, to develop a safe and effective wellness program that complements your life style and offers long-lasting fitness rewards.
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Dr. Ira Shapiro has been director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center located in Old Bridge, New Jersey since 1984. He is a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic medical staff and the winner of numerous professional awards and distinctions. In 2006, he was named the Sports Doctor of the Year by the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Council on Sports Injuries & Physical Fitness and received a Special Service Award from the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC). During that same year, he also received honors from both the township of Old Bridge, New Jersey and the state of New Jersey for his long-term commitment to chiropractics excellence.