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About 2 weeks ago I started having really annoying pain in the neck, shoulders and to lesser extent back. I think the immediate cause could have been sleeping in draught under inadequate cover and clothing. I went to an osteopath, but it made things worse :(

What should I do about exercises in this case? They seem to help immediately after (probably when the muscles are warm), but its seems to be worse afterwards (e.g. next morning). Should I train nevertheless? Or just do light stuff, e.g. strolls? Or try to move as little as possible? (I am still waiting for my doctor's appointment)

Also are there any creams or supplements that could help? Does massage or hot bath help (to get rid of it - it does bring some immediate relief)?

My overall fitness level is low at the moment, I was just trying to get back in shape :(

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What kind of exercise were you doing that made you get these pains? –  Ivo Flipse Dec 19 '11 at 12:12
    
@Ivo, Nothing in particular, they just started... –  Grzenio Dec 19 '11 at 14:49
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1 Answer 1

If your current fitness/strength level is low, then my suspicion is that you are experiencing muscle cramps due to increased demands. There are a few things I would suggest for rehab:

  • First, deal with the cramping. Yes, massage works, and many massage therapists have special oils that really help the muscles to relax. If you can't afford the massage therapist, a low cost solution is to get a Lacrosse ball or something like that, roll it on the area until you find the spot with the most pain. Keep the ball there until the cramp dissipates. Then find the next one. It's painful, but feels so much better when you are done.
  • Second, evaluate what you are doing. Cramping can be caused by muscle imbalance, poor technique, or too much resistance too soon. It can also be caused by trying to do work without enough energy, or simply an electrolyte imbalance. If nothing stands out at first (very possible if you are just beginning), start with making sure you have something to eat before training and you keep hydrated throughout your training.

When you do any type of resistance training (machines, free weights [barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells], body-weight exercise) you have to approach your programming in these ways:

  • Technique. Make sure you are applying correct technique. More than likely, your torso is moving a lot more than it should. For example, a common way to cheat on something like lat pulldowns is to lean the body back to get the weight moving. Back off the weight until you can perform the technique properly. That last statement bears repeating: back off the weight until you can perform the technique properly. The single biggest mistake I see newbies do (and did myself) is to try to do more than you are able.
  • Symmetry. If you work the chest, also work the back. If you work the front of the legs (quads), work the back (hamstrings). A good selection of 4-5 compound barbell exercises can address this pretty well (bench press, overhead press, squats, deadlift). There are equivalents with other forms of resistance as well.
  • Core. You should be strengthening your core almost every time you exercise. The abs and back work to provide stability to your body. The more they can bear, the less your other muscles have to get overworked.
  • Progressive Increase. You won't get stronger if you don't increase resistance, or challenge yourself more. The best way to do that is to have small increases scheduled over time. It's not going to do you any good in the long term to increase your weights 20lb at a time. Increasing only 5lb or 2.5lb at a time will help you get stronger for a longer period of time because you will be getting stronger at a pace you can handle.
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