Why Does My Body Hurt?

By Juliann Plimpton, AT

This is the question, as athletes, we ask ourselves day in and day out. Whether pre-season, in-season, or post-season, there always seems to be something that hurts. The scientific process behind why we hurt entails a highway system of signals that are constantly sent from the site of pain to the brain and then back again to the original site. The final product of this process is the pain you feel in the affected area.

In the athletic world, most the pain you feel during or after your skill is muscle fatigue and muscle overuse. Only a small percentage of injuries are acutely traumatic (e.g. broken bones, sprain, and strains). This is not to say that the acute injures won’t happen, but they are less common.

Whether acute or chronic injures, it is important to manage them appropriately. The best way to manage any hurting body part is a proper warm up and cool down of about 10 minutes, stretching after your skilled event, ice any sore body parts, and rehydration.

  • Warming up essentially is what it implies. It is allowing your body time to loosen up. This decrease the chances of acute muscle injuries. Walking, biking, jumping jacks, and running are all examples of warm-ups utilized pre-sport.
  • Cooling down allows lactic acid, the waste product produced during exercises, to get metabolized more efficiently and thus decreasing the effects of soreness and muscle fatigue.
  • After exercise it is natural for muscles to shorten. Tight muscles overtime can cause overuse injuries and sometimes strains. Stretching before and after exercise decreases the amount of stress on the muscles and decreases the chances of muscle pain due to overuse.
  • Icing is important because it decrease our body’s response to inflammatory response and decrease the amount of lactic acid to being produced after exercise. Decreased lactic acid results in decrease in pain and increase in recovery time.
  • Finally, rehydration provides the body tissues with what I like to call the “ah” affect. Think of when you drink an ice cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Drinking the lemonade refreshes and cools you down. Hydration via water and sports drinks rich in electrolytes does the same thing for your body after exercise. Electrolytes replenish key elements the body needed to function and water helps restore various concentrations in the body and flush out lactic acid.

It is inevitable, at some point in time, exercising for recreation or for your skilled sport will cause your body to hurt. Understanding why your body hurts and how to manage your aches and pains is the first steps enjoying your physical activity and increasing your recovery time.

Visit one of our clinics in Petoskey, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Indian River and Harbor Springs to discuss your concerns and goals. We offer free consultations  to help answer your questions about how our Physical Therapists can help you.