“When does the soreness go away?”

I’ve been “Crossfitting” regularly for about 2 years now.  I was really sore this morning and after a conversation with one of our athletes yesterday I decided today would be a good day to explore this ever present question; Why is it that I can work out consistently 4-5 times per week for 2 years and still become so sore?  When I worked out at “Globo –Gym” I would get sore, but never this sore and never did it last past the first month…. It makes sense to review some key training concepts of the two approaches to "working out" and also look at managing recovery. Let's start by looking at the workouts:

Globo-Gym

1) Rarely varied – Back and Biceps on Monday; chest and triceps on Tuesday; legs on Wednesday etc….
2) Isolated movements  – Biceps curls, calf raises, hamstring curl, hip sled, peck deck……
3) Performed at low intensity – 3 sets of 10-12 with 2-3 minutes of rest between sets just isn’t intense. Every now and then throw in a “super-set”

CrossFit

1) Constantly Varied – WODS are almost always different with focus on all 10 attributes of fitness.
2) Functional  Movements  – “core to extremity” movements that include multiple joints and muscle systems working together to perform the movement.  There are over 60 different functional movements that we draw from in our WODs and multiple variations of most of these.
3) Performed at High Intensity (Timed efforts, in most cases, that produce greater outputs of power by reducing rest to almost nothing)

Just looking at the approach answers why I still get very sore. I have so many movements using so many different muscles that adaptation to the routine becomes very difficult.  Couple this with the intensity that is common in CrossFit and I understand why the SDHP (Sumo Deadlift High Pull) crushes me.  I do this movement maybe twice in a month.  It uses similar muscles that I use in the kettlebell swing, but in a much different way;  hence the adaptation, or soreness if you will.

Recovery

Review ACF training principles for our overall training philosophy including work\rest cycles and recovery strategies. Soreness is the key focus on this article, and while sleep and scaling are very important, nothing is more important than
your diet while managing fitness goals.

Diet plays a HUGE part in soreness and recovery.  Inflammatory diets high in sugar and unfavorable carbs create systemic inflammation that makes recovery harder and longer.  Dial in your diet to the CrossFit standard of “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” and you will find your soreness reduced and recovery faster.  We all metabolize the effects of working out at different rates.  The key is to create the optimal body chemistry to achieve the quickest recovery possible. Your diet produces this chemistry.

Finally, review this foundations article (http://www.crossfit.com/cf-download/Foundations.pdf) and understand what you are participating in at ACF. This is not a casual fitness program.  This is a community committed to a fitness philosophy that works.  Adaptation and soreness are part of the deal. It is why you are here.  Managing recovery and staying consistent is the real challenge.  This can be accomplished through improved diet, smart scaling, solid technique and improved consistency.

– Coach Jim  

P.S. There are many other facets on this topic of soreness and recovery, but this bit of brain matter focuses on approach and recovery(cause and effect) not necessarily physiology specifically. No one has a cure for soreness, but I will say one thing; avoid the Motrin if you can, and use plenty of ice. Part of being a CrossFitter is that ability to manage your body through this difficult change in approach to fitness and as always, discuss your aches and pains with the coaches for specific guidance and scaling as necessary.


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