During the rather grueling preparation for our latest show, I had occasion to ponder the distinction between fatigue and injury.
When the body hurts after a strenuous workout, generally speaking, what you're dealing with is fatigue. Post-workout soreness is the result of injury at the microscopic scale, when individual cells have sustained some non-terminal damage.
No special "treatment" is required to recover from exercise-related fatigue; just rest, good nutrition, and maybe (probably) some self-massage.
The routine repair of this type of damage is what causes muscles to grow stronger (and, if properly fed, bigger). It also helps bones and connective tissues to grow tougher.
This is a whole different thing from actual injury. It's not uncommon for people to say they are injured when they are really just sore.
A lot of soft-tissue soreness can be worked out by the individual using inexpensive tools and simple techniques.
But it's also not uncommon for people to resist doing this kind of maintenance work, and over time the result can be real injury.
I've addressed this topic in various ways several times over the years I've been writing this blog. It just came to mind again because over a few weeks of rehearsing our latest number, I went from needing 2-3 days to recover to needing about 8 hours.
That is the body adapting to demand and responding by increasing strength, which reduces fatigue.
It's remarkable how fast this can happen when your behavior facilitates it. If I have a point to make this time around, it's probably the same point I've made before. In order to get past fatigue to get stronger (or more flexible, faster, springier, or whatever) you have to do some maintenance.
- You have to eat a healthy diet with plenty of protein and good fats.
- You have to get enough sleep.
- You have to drink enough water.
- And you have to stretch, do self-massage, employ a foam roller or any other tool that will help to move the body's healing juices through your hardworking tissues.
In other words, you have to NOT say "I'm sore" and just sit on the couch.