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jlbrewer
06-01-2011, 10:18 PM
I just enrolled in a beginner's series of Aikido classes (once a week for a month) at a local dojo. I'm female, in my twenties, overweight and work at a computer all day; the only sort of shape I'm in is "round". I fully expect difficulty and a little soreness and believe I can overcome them but I'm worried there might be a more serious issue.

I've been to class twice so far, and was sore and stiff in my knees and in my stomach muscles the day after the first one, but though I'm inconvenienced I'm not really worried yet - I know this is normal for people who aren't used to exercise, and it fades by the middle of the week. However in warmup during the next class, as soon as I start doing the exercise where you roll onto your back from sitting and back up, my abdominals ached sharply. I couldn't do a backward fall in ukemi either without considerable pain. Sensei took me aside and interrogated me carefully to rule out more serious injury, said it was "possible muscle strain" and let me continue practice without having to do the backfalls (it did loosen up by the end of the hour so that I could bend forward again.) He advised after practice that I work on stretching it out and some light chair exercises to do during the day while I'm working, and to try to do the particular warmup move that gave me trouble a few times a day.

Well its the middle of the week now. It doesn't hurt during the normal course of the day; I've been doing the chair exercises and stretching and been trying to do more walking (I take public transit), but it still hurts too much to do the warmup move or anything sudden and vigorous. The most I can manage is to try and bring my legs up until it gets uncomfortable and hold it for a bit, and a yoga pose I remember from college where you lie face down and lift your upper body to hold it similarly. I really want this to get better, and to be stronger, but I know trying to force it is dangerous. I'm worried though that I won't be able to participate fully in training (the dojo's brochure recommends full paying members attend three times a week and the weekday classes are more vigorous). I'm also afraid that if I have to pull out, I'll never get motivated to get back in (my usual fate - it took me six months to stop procrastinating and start the classes.) I do really enjoy aikido so far in spite of the difficulty. "Normal" exercise is boring to me and I don't stick with it because I don't enjoy it.

Advice, sympathy, encouragement, I'll take whatever I can get. Thanks.

ninjaqutie
06-02-2011, 12:35 AM
Soreness is expected if you aren't used to exercise. If you do a lot of ab stuff you aren't used to, you will definitely feel it. Unfortunately, I can't say whether your pain is "good" pain or "bad" pain. If I am doing a good workout, I aim for the "burn" and if I'm not sore the next day, I don't feel like I pushed myself enough. If you do more abdominal exercises while you are still sore, moderate pain should be expected. A general "burning" sensation probably isn't a bad thing, but a sharp, shooting, burning sensation may not be a good thing.

Also, stretching tight muscles is going to cause discomfort or pain if you go too far. Take it easy. Maybe a hot shower or long soak in the tub will help you relax. Whenever I over do my ab workout, I like to stretch out my abs by doing a backbend/table pose in yoga. Of course, if you aren't very flexible, this may not be a good idea. Another good ab stretch is the cobra pose in yoga.

I'm glad you finally stepped on the mat. Don't be discouraged! Even those of us who have trained for years end up sore. If I take even a few days off and go back, I get sore. In fact, I know this weekend I will be mega sore after returning to iaido after a several month hiatus.

Take it easy, listen to your body and just keep chugging along. Each person's body has their own pace.

Michael Hackett
06-02-2011, 12:41 AM
It sounds like you're using muscles that you don't regularly challenge Jamie. Sitting in seiza and getting up and down a million times a class is hard on any new person and if you've been sedentary and overweight, that just makes it a little tougher. Your abs probably aren't used to a lot of exercise either. Unless you think you're actually injured in some way, stick with your training and you will slowly improve your physical condition. You didn't get in your present condition overnight and you won't become an olympian overnight either. Just take it slowly and continue. You will improve by increments and it will be fine in time. Be patient and don't be hard on yourself! And doing a little bit of something is far better than doing a whole lot of nothing. Good luck with your journey - please give us periodic updates on how you are progressing.

Alberto_Italiano
06-02-2011, 02:51 AM
Weakness that goes away, you know :D

Seriously, athletic preparation is a bedrock of any sportive activity. If you lack that, you need to include an atlethic routine of your choice, to be performed on the days you're not in the dojo.

Yet, even if you are perfectly prepared, muscle "pain" and /or tendons soreness will be your constant companion after every work out routine.

I cannot remember of one single day when, after having trained, I could not feel some type of mild or not so mild musclar discomfort the next day - and I have been regularly working out for the last 30 years.

This is a variable that depends, therefore, on 2 things: lack of atlethic preparation, or presence of atlethic preparation followed by intense routines. Both will always produce some type or other of muscular hangover.

The only way to ascertain whether in your specific case you have an injury, is to consult a medical doctor. So if you're truly concerned about that, that's your only reasonable option - though you may end up in an endless string of medical tests that may eventually yield nothing.
Consult your doctor.

Aside from that, if you're not familiar with work out, maybe you're simply misinterpreting (this is my personal guess I would bet on) something that is totally normal as something that undermines your capabilities - it's not so, maybe you just don't know that training feels like that also, and you're scared by this new sensation.

My personal solution to muscle soreness and tendons stretch has always been: keep working. Pains invariably went away, eventually - only to present themselves again in another district.

If you have problems with your wrists, it will go away overnight normally, but taping them for bedtime may help.

There are types of tendons inflammations or muscular strains that may be with you for months though - you just live with them and readjust your rotines accordingly.

Eva Antonia
06-02-2011, 03:59 AM
Dear Jil,

I don't know if it is normal to have such a sharp pain as you described. It sounds different from the normal pain you have after muscle exertion. In my dojo we had a guy who tore a muscle during rather slow and not-so-vigorous exercise because he didn't warm up enough. From my non-doctor point of view it sounds as if it might be a tear of some muscle parts.

If you are not at all used to sports, maybe the rolling exercise was already too much for your abdominal muscles? I'm doing aikido since 4,5 years, I'm going to class four times a week and cycle every day two hours (going to work, bringing daughter to school), so I think I DO have a trained body, but still this specific exercise brings me to the limit of my capacity - so maybe it could do damage on a newbie?

But if you like aikido, don't allow circumstances like this one to discourage you! Even if it's a tear it'll get away after three weeks or so, and if it's only "normal" muscle pain, you'll overcome that quickly. And if you don't have the stamina to do these abdominal exercises with the same vigour as the others, just do them slower, or only half the amount. Nothing to be ashamed about! I'm still doing the abdominals half-hearted, and when the male collegas do 10 push-ups I arrive pantingly at 5. So what?

Wishing you much fun in your further aikido carreer :-)

Eva

Dave de Vos
06-02-2011, 05:11 AM
I think backroll practise is a great workout for the abdominal muscles. Especially the layer of muscles on the sides of my abdomen, over my lower ribs, has thickened considerably in the course of the first months of training.

In the beginning I felt sore there the days after practicing backrolls. It did not feel like a sharp pain, but then again, I might have been in better shape to start with (and not overweight).

Shadowfax
06-02-2011, 06:31 AM
Not to worry. I had the same pain you describe during my early training. In fact with me it would be so bad the next mornign that just getting out of bed was a challenge. It usually would start to feel better just about the time it was time for my next class. At the time I was only training twice a week.

I always dreaded rocking practice at the beginning of class because it was only in back rolls that I had such trouble. And the pain would be really severe at times. In fact I still get kind of a sick feeling in my stomach when sensei decides to do them in warm ups even though it no longer bothers me. Mercifully froward rolls actually came pretty easily to me.

It does go away in time as your ab and tsoas muscles get stronger. If the pain is getting to be too much don't be afraid to skip a class and let yourself heal a bit more before the next. But I think I got past it quicker when I went to training 3 times a week.

Ibuprofen is your friend. Taking it before a class will help to reduce the amount of pain you feel.

Ice packs on the area after class also will help.

The severe pain eventually did go away. I was still pretty sore after classes for quite a while but that too eventually will go away. I'm rarely sore after training anymore and I have been training just a bit over two years now.

Janet Rosen
06-02-2011, 10:52 AM
Ibuprofen is your friend. Taking it before a class will help to reduce the amount of pain you feel.

I have to disagree, Cherie
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/phys-ed-does-ibuprofen-help-or-hurt-during-exercise/

To the OP: if you really have an acute muscle strain, as opposed to a mild overuse, I don't recommend trying to work "through it" in the hopes it will ease up - also don't recommend overdoing stretching a muscle that may have a tear or a series of microtears - better to back off on the things that aggravate it for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce the abdominal exercises only to the point that there is a mild ache the next day.

Michael Hackett
06-02-2011, 01:53 PM
Ibuprofen or not, I personally believe that it is a bad idea to take any pain medication before working out, and certainly not before aikido practice. If your ability to sense pain is dulled sufficiently, you may do something to cause real harm. Janet's article is a real eye opener too.

Shadowfax
06-02-2011, 01:55 PM
Ok let me put it another way then. Ibuprofen is my friend. I take it before every class. It helps.

Having been in and survived the exact same symptoms the OP mentioned I thought I would share what has worked for me in my experience.

Information can easily be found to support both arguments.
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=78966&page=2

I go by my own experience. When I take IB pre workout I am not sore. When I don't take it I am sore. My excercise tolerance and endurance have continued to improve as has the amount of muscle I carry on me.

Michael Hackett
06-02-2011, 04:15 PM
Whatever works for you Cherie, works. My concern with taking any pain med before aikido is that it can mask warning symptoms and you can push beyond your normal limits with a resultant aggravation or injury. A friend of mine has had a number of joint replacements over the years after years of abusing his body as a Recon Marine. He came to a seminar with his regular pain meds on board and felt he was invincible. Unfortunately, he was wrong and took several high breakfalls until the last one jarred his knee replacement loose. I'll grant that he displayed poor judgment by taking a series of absolutely unnecessary breakfalls, but his pain and limitations were masked chemically with terrible results.

If your protocol is working, good. I thought sea salt caramel truffle ice cream was a bad idea too.

jlbrewer
06-02-2011, 06:52 PM
Thank you all for your replies so far. The general theme of them appears to be "hang in there" which is definitely what I needed to hear.

ninjaquite: There is (was?) some sharpness, but by the end of that practice I was able to bend all the way forward again without it hurting. If I work it without trying to push it too suddenly or to far, it's just a burn.

Janet: I am being careful about it but I don't want to not work it at all either, or the next several practices will be just as bad. If I learned one thing in a semester's worth of college yoga, it was not to push past your limit, just to it...and the limit will improve over time. Right now for me it's work until I remember to do something, do a few leg lifts and a stretch or two, then go back to what I was doing. Between yesterday and today I do think it's helping a little.

Alberto and anyone else: Do you have advice for working more athletics into my day? I'm a creature chained by habit, I do better making changes in small steps (example: "I'm going to walk the extra blocks to catch the bus today instead of catching the connecting bus to get there."). Also, things I can do at home without equipment are better (the only amenity at my apartment complex that might be relevant is a fairly small swimming pool). Small, inexpensive equipment I can get without much trouble like a yoga mat would be ok. A gym membership on top of Aikido isn't really feasible for my schedule or budget.

On ibuprofen: While I ought to grab a bottle of it for the day after class, I'd already run across this subject in the course of Googling, and I'm in the "don't do it before/during exercise" camp. Pain is your body trying to tell you something, suppress that warning at your peril. Even "work though it" to me means "work through only when/if/as much as it's actually tolerable".

Michael Hackett
06-02-2011, 07:43 PM
Jamie, if you have a pool available, give walking and then running in the pool a go. Great for cardio work and general toning while giving a low impact workout. That's good for a start. Breathing exercises can also be beneficial - check and see if your local Y or recreation department has any qi gong classes available. Again, a little something is better than a whole lot of nothing.

Alberto_Italiano
06-03-2011, 05:31 AM
Alberto and anyone else: Do you have advice for working more athletics into my day? I'm a creature chained by habit, I do better making changes in small steps (example: "I'm going to walk the extra blocks to catch the bus today instead of catching the connecting bus to get there."). Also, things I can do at home without equipment are better (the only amenity at my apartment complex that might be relevant is a fairly small swimming pool). Small, inexpensive equipment I can get without much trouble like a yoga mat would be ok. A gym membership on top of Aikido isn't really feasible for my schedule or budget.

Don't worry, attending two gyms is normally out of budget for many of us - well not really out of budget, but well you know it's money and I agree one never has enough, unless you're Bill Gates :)

There is plenty of things that you can do to improve your atlethic preparation also without attending a gym specifically for that.

The main thing is normally this: whetever atletical preparation you choose, onc eyou have determined or adjusted a routine, you need to stick to it.
So, for instance, if you train with a friend, the time you spend training must be much more than that you spend chatting with him/her. I see plenty of gyms where guys go there in couples and they seem to have placed a towel on a beach instead than on gym equipment, given the amount of time they sit idle on those towels chatting.

My routine cannot apply to you, however no routine that lasts less than 40 minutes (including say 10 mins of warm up) is ever going to do anything.

3 days a week, at least 30 whole minutes as a start, with the idea of moving to 45.

The only equipment you may need are portable Dumbbells - two of them either 1kg or 2 kg (1kg =2.2 pounds). Either in the house or out in a park you can walk while training with them as you walk - whatever arm motion (mostly shoulder) you can think of, may do. You may of course find many ideas on the internet also about free body excercises - you just add the dumbells to those movements.

Abds. Rotation on your waist. Jogging (beware of jogging: a wrong shoe may injure your plantar fascia if you jog a lot - so whenever you jog, don't land with your full plant on the ground as if you were stomping).

For wrists training or more ideas, also: http://www.aikidostudent.com/content/?cat=11

But on top of these small ideas: have fun: training must be a pleasure for you, so do the excercises that produce some exertion but are also of satisfaction for you. You must end with a situation where soon after the training you feel much better and tonic, and the next day with a few pains.

And remember: when you start training, you don't feel like doing it. But when you finish, you feel much much better than when you started.

Shadowfax
06-03-2011, 08:01 AM
Over the counter pain relivers do not prevent a person from feeling pain. The reduce inflammation and swelling which reduces pain. I still feel pain during practice when there is a reason to feel pain, and have enough sense to know my own limits and limitations. The greatest benefit I get is not during practice but the day or so after it. Interestingly enough the one time I got a significant injury on the mat was during the time period when I had stopped taking the Ibuprofen before class.

Any rate I am not interested in convincing anyone that I am right and they are wrong. What is right for me very well may not be right for someone else.

Train safe. :)

lbb
06-03-2011, 09:48 AM
Ibuprofen or not, I personally believe that it is a bad idea to take any pain medication before working out

Ibuprofin isn't a pain medicine. It's an anti-inflammatory.

lbb
06-03-2011, 09:53 AM
Janet: I am being careful about it but I don't want to not work it at all either, or the next several practices will be just as bad. If I learned one thing in a semester's worth of college yoga, it was not to push past your limit, just to it...and the limit will improve over time.

As long as you know what the limit is, and can tell when pain=injured. "Not work it at all" is the appropriate thing to do with almost any recent injury.

Alberto and anyone else: Do you have advice for working more athletics into my day? I'm a creature chained by habit, I do better making changes in small steps (example: "I'm going to walk the extra blocks to catch the bus today instead of catching the connecting bus to get there."). Also, things I can do at home without equipment are better (the only amenity at my apartment complex that might be relevant is a fairly small swimming pool). Small, inexpensive equipment I can get without much trouble like a yoga mat would be ok. A gym membership on top of Aikido isn't really feasible for my schedule or budget.

Start by getting rid of labels like "exercise" and "athletics". Instead, just change how you live your life. Have an alarm set to tell you to get up out of your chair and walk around the office every half hour. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, get off one stop sooner on the subway, park at the far end of the parking lot, etc.

On ibuprofen: While I ought to grab a bottle of it for the day after class, I'd already run across this subject in the course of Googling, and I'm in the "don't do it before/during exercise" camp. Pain is your body trying to tell you something, suppress that warning at your peril. Even "work though it" to me means "work through only when/if/as much as it's actually tolerable".

Ibuprofin is not a painkiller.

Janet Rosen
06-03-2011, 10:45 AM
On days I am mostly "in the office" I do all kinds of isometrics while seated (glutes, abdominals,) and every half hour or so get up to walk to the office kitchen and while my tea water heats in the microwave I have a little over a minute to do squats or silk reeling or arm exercises using the wall....weather permitting I spend most of my 15 minute break outside walking... over time every little bit will help....

Pauliina Lievonen
06-04-2011, 04:08 AM
About ibuprofen... I wonder if the differences in opinion are a result of it working differently for people. Because for me ibuprofen works better as a painkiller than for example paracetamol. It makes me pretty effectively numb for all but the sharpest pain actually. So I personally wouldn't want to take any before class. But it sounds like the pain reducing effect isn't so strong for some other people?

A super effective exercise as preparation for aikido classes, if you have a little space in your living room: Put a mattress on the floor. Put some fun music on. :) Now get down on the mattress (you don't need to do a back fall, just squat and gently plop down, or if necessary, kneel down and then lie down). And get up again. Repeat. You might not want to do too many repetitions right away.

And what Mary and Janet said - looks for opportunities to move during the day, even in small ways. It all adds up.

Pauliina

Michael Varin
06-04-2011, 04:57 AM
Jamie,

I don't think you are experiencing anything that is abnormal for a sedentary individual who begins training.

no routine that lasts less than 40 minutes (including say 10 mins of warm up) is ever going to do anything.
I strongly disagree… Of course it depends on what that "anything" that you want your program to do is. If you simply want to feel and move better it doesn't take 40 minutes per day.

With the full force of my persuasiveness (which probably doesn't come across the computer screen) I encourage you to do self-myofascial release i.e. foam rolling, and dynamic mobility and activation exercises as a daily routine. It will only take 10 - 20 minutes and will be so valuable to you.

This really is the best way for the average person to workout. Plus, you don't need a gym!

I'll emphasize, work into it slowly. If you do it just right you will never have to deal with too much soreness, and after about six months or so you will be surprised at how your body has changed.

Here is a program that will cost you some money but I can't recommend it highly enough.

http://www.ampedwarmup.com/

If you don't want to spend money, that's cool... search foam rolling, mobility, activation, eric cressey, smitty diesel on Google and YouTube. You'll find plenty to get you started!

Below are just a couple to lead you in the right direction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8caF1Keg2XU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbO6klMhYf0

Having said all that, several others have made this point in different ways: There are 24 hours in each day. How do you spend most of them? If you mostly sit, than you better make damn well sure that you maximize the time that you spend training, because that 1 -- 2 hours has to balance out the other 22 -- 23 hours.

Alberto_Italiano
06-04-2011, 06:39 AM
I strongly disagree… Of course it depends on what that "anything" that you want your program to do is. If you simply want to feel and move better it doesn't take 40 minutes per day.

I knew that you would disagree (and not just that, but even strongly lol). After all, you do aikido :D You guys are so tough in your work outs :D

Yes, let's make her train 15 minutes every other day or so (and also slowly). That's gonna do wonders :D

ps what about just stating your idea without posting it as a rebuttal of another one? It would not invite declaring it as clearly wrong - in 15 minutes you barely warm up.

Janet Rosen
06-04-2011, 12:59 PM
Different folks define fitness differently and have different goals.
I'm a 57 yr old who has always despised "exercise" and basically just want enough off-the-mat exercise to keep me able to be on-the-mat and on a day when I'm at work eight hours, then going to the dojo for a two hour class, I'm happy to grab my two to four minute little isometric sessions and a walk. I totally accept that for healthy twenty or thirty somethings this is pitiful and wholly inadequate but for a sedentary desk jockey at any age it's not a bad way to ease in to starting a healthier way of living.

Dave de Vos
06-04-2011, 04:14 PM
I knew that you would disagree (and not just that, but even strongly lol). After all, you do aikido :D You guys are so tough in your work outs :D

Yes, let's make her train 15 minutes every other day or so (and also slowly). That's gonna do wonders :D

ps what about just stating your idea without posting it as a rebuttal of another one? It would not invite declaring it as clearly wrong - in 15 minutes you barely warm up.

Wouldn't it depend on the level of fitness you want to achieve?

If you want to be fit enough to walk up the stairs for 80 steps with only mildy increased heart rate, you don't need 45 minute workouts 3 times a week. Doing what Janet does is probably more than enough for this level of fitness (when not seriously overweight)

If you want to be fit enough to run up the stairs for 160 steps without being totally exhausted, you need more than that.

lbb
06-04-2011, 05:11 PM
I knew that you would disagree (and not just that, but even strongly lol). After all, you do aikido :D You guys are so tough in your work outs :D

This is the sort of thing that would only be said by someone who is willfully ignorant and who desires to give offense -- and then, no doubt, will hasten to pretend surprise when offense is taken. "I am shocked, shocked that you could take offense at my statement! I'm just trying to help!" Yeah, right. Those cute little smileys? They're not a "get out of jail free" card. If you act like a jerk and then tack a smiley on it, you're not fooling anybody (except possibly yourself).

lbb
06-04-2011, 05:22 PM
About ibuprofen... I wonder if the differences in opinion are a result of it working differently for people. Because for me ibuprofen works better as a painkiller than for example paracetamol. It makes me pretty effectively numb for all but the sharpest pain actually. So I personally wouldn't want to take any before class. But it sounds like the pain reducing effect isn't so strong for some other people?

I don't think that ibuprofen works differently for different people. It is an NSAID -- a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It reduces inflammation. When inflammation is the cause or a contributing factor to pain, as is very often the case with soft tissue injury, reducing inflammation will cause a reduction in pain. But it is not a "painkiller", not an analgesic. If the cause of your pain is not inflammation, an anti-inflammatory won't help. So, in that sense, it "works" differently for different people because different people have different conditions, and ibuprofen isn't always the right tool for the job.

Another possible "works differently" factor is different individuals' tolerance for pain or discomfort. What one person calls "minor aches and pains" is a big deal for another person and not even worth mentioning for a third.

jlbrewer
06-04-2011, 05:33 PM
Maybe it would help if I wrote down what my objectives are. Obviously I do want to lose weight - fitting better into the Gi I bought yesterday would be a good start. ;) But let's just say that will be a very long term thing, to get down even to just an amount considered healthy. Patience is going to be a prerequisite.

I have no aspirations to be a "top athlete" of any sort...closer to the "walk up 80 steps" Dave suggested than running up any number of them. (even 30 would be an improvement). Or a two mile walk over flat terrain without much stress. More immediate goals would be "flexible enough to sit seiza properly", "able to do the forward rolls across the mat during warm-up" and to get through said warm-up without being breathless (noticing a change there already). Overall, I want to be a healthier and more disciplined person, not a gym jockey. :)

Michael H, the pool running sounds like a good place to start. Michael V, the foam rolling looks really interesting, I will look more into it. Janet, could you point at some reference for the sort of exercises you do? Alberto, the walking and the weights sound fine but I wouldn't last 5 minutes jogging yet, unless it was in the pool like Michael suggested.

Meanwhile, today's practice was much better. Still a little tight and sore going in, but I could do the rolls and the backfalls without aggravating anything, long as I did them more slowly. So feeling much more optimistic.

Michael Hackett
06-04-2011, 07:41 PM
Jamie, running in the pool will certainly get you huffing and puffing. It can be as intense as you desire, but it will take the stress off the joints due to the very, very low impact. One thing to remember though is to stay hydrated. You can get badly dehydrated in a pool, whether swimming or running or whatever. Doing something daily is a good start and I applaud you for wanting to make the change. At this stage you might want to look into qi gong exercises that focus on improving health, flexibility and attitude. Good luck with your journey!

Sky
06-20-2011, 11:43 AM
Something I learned in the Army about soreness:

Drink water. Lots of water. As I was told, water will help carry away the toxins from your muscles, allowing them to recover more quickly.

And it helps you lose weight, to boot.

I don't know if the science behind this is accurate, but it has always helped with soreness in my life.

Walter Martindale
06-20-2011, 12:06 PM
Sounds like DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is the issue - work in a range or volume that you're not accustomed to will cause DOMS, even in elite athletes.
solution? persistence. keep at it. for physical fitness, presently if "i'm in shape, round is a shape" is a valid descriptor, walking for an hour a day - a brisk walk, that is, will cause weight loss, increase cardiovascular fitness (gently), and solve many back problems. A few minutes stretching after the walk will prevent stiffening up.
W