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Dear Dr. Bell,
Can you do cardio with your legs sore from Leg Day the day Before?
The Scientific Research is still scattered on this issue, but my best educated guess and a lifetime of experience tells me the answer is YES! The primary reason for me is a dramatic lessening of the pain with cardio and flexibility training. My best experience with pain reduction is to do both.
NEVER EVER Stretch cold muscle fibers! You ALWAYS Warm-Up prior to Flexibility Training, so do your cardio, then stretch.
My best science answer is that your blood carries everything you need to repair the damage you did to cause the pain. PAIN is how your body communicates to you that something is wrong and in this case, the pain tells you that your Training has damaged your muscles. Cardio and Stretching will dramatically increase blood flow to your damaged muscles. The blood flow will bring the nutrients needed to repair the damage and remove the toxic-by-products of your strenuous exercise.
You may be thinking one of those toxins is Lactic Acid, if you did, please go back and review the energy systems you learned in your IFPA Personal Trainer Certification Course. Lactic Acid, which is formed by relatively high intensity anaerobic exercise activity, will return to pyruvate quickly once your anaerobic exercise stops and oxygen becomes available again. Your pain is most likely caused by micro trauma within your individual muscle fibers (cells). It is better for you if I provide you with some tips to hasten your recovery than to satisfy your scientific curiosity.
You will not be able to effectively ADAPT until you fully RECOVER and one of the best tips I can give you is NUTRITION! The IFPA developed both the IFPA Sports Nutrition and Advanced Sports Nutrition Certification Course to give you detailed, extensive and comprehensive knowledge, skills and Abilities to achieve your goals safely and effectively.
Quick Nutrition Tip: 2 grams of Complex Carbohydrate/pound of Body Weight; 1 gram of Protein/ pound of Bodyweight and 15% of calories from healthy Fats. And rely on REAL FOOD!
Hydration Tip: Drink sufficient WATER to keep your urine clear to nearly clear.
Sleep: minimum of 7 hours/night, more when you train hard.
Keep your total training time to 90 minutes of less to prevent a rise in Cortisol Production
Contrast Baths– Hot Jacuzzi (5 mins) to cold plunge (1 min); Contrast Showers are 2nd best.
Massage or the “Poor Man’s Massage” Foam Rollers.
Supplementation (after and in addition to Healthy Eating) BCAAs, Minerals, Glutamine, Creatine, but watch your Blood Pressure and Leave plenty of time/intensity for non-muscle adaptation.
Good Luck in your Training
CEO of the IFPA