If you have been attending Exam Week, you are sore. It used to be conventional wisdom to say that it is lactic acid build up. Lactic acid has nothing to do with your next-day soreness.
It starts by you damaging your muscles. That is, basically, what exercise does. It is a series of damage and recovery cycles. The soreness is from micro-trauma to your muscle and the body’s automatic response of inflammation. You are not going to like this suggestion, but ice baths do wonders for this type of all-over micro-trauma that you are experiencing this week.
While ice will help with recovery immediately, it will do little for the trigger points of soft tissue that have knotted up due to repetitive damage and repair. If you do not stretch regularly or if you have a particularly active week, you can expect the tear-heal-tear-heal cycle to cause knots that restrict motion and cause highly localized pain. At this point, stretching is not the answer, but myofascial release is.
If you have been to Stretching School, you have probably done some mobility work with the lacrosse ball. This is a form of myofascial release. We try to teach partner or self-myofascial release (get your mind out of the gutter) so that you can help your body to recover better. If these types of techniques are failing to relieve, it is a good idea to get a professional physical or massage therapist to work on you.
Since this week has been particularly punishing, next week we will be introducing some self-myofascial release techniques during our normally scheduled 15 minutes of lift. Doc and Kari have graciously agreed to put together a series for our athletes. Once you learn these, it is important to make some time, preferably everyday, to maintain your body so that you can maintain and improve your range of motion, help your own recovery, and remain pain-free.