2 Tips For Workout Pain Prevention And Relief

For decades I’ve been training and working out while remaining free of major injuries. I attribute this to two things that I’m going to share with you so that you too can minimize or reduce muscle aches, workout while performing at your best, and remain free of serious injuries or injuries altogether.

 

Stretching Does Not Help Prevent Injury

This might be shocking news. If you ask Google whether stretching helps prevent injury, the answer will be “no”. Stretching does not help prevent injury when analyzing it on a session-by-session basis, because one does not become more flexible in one session. But we’re asking the wrong question. The right question to ask is “does a consistent stretching routine help prevent injury?”, the answer is “yes”. The accumulation of stretching over-time which increases overall flexibility is what contributes to injury prevention.

I have some more news that will be welcomed with open arms but comes with a caveat. Stretching is not always required after a workout. I have my clients’ complete workouts after which no stretching is performed, reason being, the workout itself included great mobility exercises and specific areas were stretched during rest/recovery between sets. I’ve also walked away from a workout without stretching at the end, these were usually workouts that included dynamic movements across all movement planes. But also, as a very flexible and mobile person, I’ve earned the rights to skip stretching once in a while. In other words, if you program correctly or if you have good flexibility already, then it’s ok to sometimes skip stretching at the end of a workout.

What Does Stretching Do For You?

A good consistent stretching and mobility routine is what creates flexibility, increases the range of motion (ROM), and allows you to move easier. More range of motion means reduced chance of injury, especially during explosive and loaded movements.

You have a good stretching routine if it covers all the joints in your body, think:

  • Cervical area
  • Thoracic area
  • Shoulders/scapulae area
  • Wrist area
  • Hip area
  • Ankle area

With all that said, you should know that stretching after a workout does assist in the easing of muscle soreness and releasing lactic acid. Something else that will help you reduce muscle soreness is cold. There is a lot of talk these days about cold and how it can benefit the human body. I can attest that cold can be extremely beneficial when used properly, in moderation and with step-by-step progression. If you look at it like strength training, to get stronger muscles you need to expose them to the stress of heavier weights, if you expose your body to colder temperatures you will reap the benefits that cold can provide. Like anything in this world, I believe in moderation, progression, and exposure to almost everything.

Make Cold Your Best Friend

So, without getting all scientific, let’s look at a real-life example that I was witness too. I recently went camping with someone who does CrossFit, just like me, works with kettlebells, just like me, and weighs almost the same. I carried 40 kg (88.2 lbs)—which included a 16 kg kettlebell—for two days up one of the highest mountains in Spain. During that trip, I stopped several times and immersed my body in ice cold water that came directly from the melting snow, so cold that you can only stand it for 10 to 20 seconds (I’m not Wim Hof). After we returned from the trip it took him two weeks to recover with lots of muscle aches troubling him. I recovered in one day with slight to almost no muscle ache. Remember, I had 40 kg extra weight to carry, and I also had 26 more years on me. One could say, but you’re more this or that, but I know for a fact that had I not immersed myself in cold water, I would have had muscle aches too. Only several weeks before we went on the trip I did a serious kettlebell workout at the box and I had muscle aches the next day. I did not make cold my friend that week.

The reason I didn’t go the scientific route on this is that talking about muscle fibers, microscopic tears, blood flow, creatine kinase, inflammation, etc. will turn this in an extremely long article! There is so much information from different sources, all saying something different, the best scientific advice is to try and experiment for yourself.

I’m going to leave you with some simple but effective stretches from my up and coming book, I include these in my own stretching routine.

Thoracic cross stretch

The first one is what I call the Thoracic Cross, and I picked this one for the reason that the thoracic area is mostly overlooked with stretching. It is, however, an extremely important area for anything overhead like overhead squats, shoulder presses etc. it’s also an area that dictates part of your posture, hence, a good mobile thoracic area, a good healthy posture.

Targets:

  • Thoracic
  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Scapula

How to perform:

  • Neutral standing
  • Thoracic extension (push the chest out)
  • Scapula retraction
  • Forearm supination
  • Lat contraction
  • Middle and lower trapezius contraction
  • Palms facing up
  • Look up
  • Hold position
  • Return to neutral standing

Reverse

  • Thoracic flexion (crunch)
  • Drop the shoulders
  • Pull the shoulders toward each-other
  • Forearm pronation
  • Knuckles against each-other
  • Let the head hang

Thoracic Cross Stretch 2

This is all about the upper-body, so focus on minimal to no movement in the pelvis.

 

Tricep Lat Stretch

Next stretch is the Tricep Lat Stretch.

Targets:

  • Triceps
  • Lats
  • Thoracic
  • Obliques

How to perform:

  • Neutral standing
  • Bring one hand behind the head as low as possible between the scapulae
  • Grab the elbow with the other hand
  • Pull the humerus safely in its socket through slight lat contraction
  • Push the hips slightly laterally out to get a greater lat stretch
  • Keep the core braced

Tricep Lat Stretch

Like with any stretch, but in particular with this one, do not force it, take it easy, step by step, and above all, maintain internal pressure to keep the spine solid and supported. I usually perform the tricep stretch on its own first, and then a second or third time around I also add the side stretch to get deeper into the lats and obliques.

 

Scap Opener Stretch

And last but not least, this is what I call the Scap (Scapulae) Opener.

Targets:

  • Shoulders
  • Thoracic
  • Scapulae
  • Lats

How to perform:

  • Neutral standing
  • Arms extended
  • Palms facing up
  • Elbow flexion (bend the elbow)
  • Shoulder flexion (raise elbow)
  • Hands behind the neck
  • Pull the elbows out and back
  • Scapula retraction (contract the shoulder blades)
  • Push the chest out

I like to keep this dynamic, i.e. move in and out of the stretch and repeating the movement.

If you take anything away from this article, let it be that you should invest time into your body through a good stretching and mobility routine, and that you should expose yourself to cold or at least look further into to it.

Thanks for reading. I hope our paths will cross again in the future, whether that is through the high intensity and mobility workouts I post regularly, the books I write, or my YouTube channel, and I hope you’ll follow my epic adventure as a Caveman in Nepal where me and my son will be the world’s first to drag heavy kettlebells over 130 km (80 miles) up Mount Everest.

Sincerely
Taco Fleur

Want 10 awesome kettlebell tips for beginners? Check out the following video.

A great workout that includes dynamic stretches for the thoracic area is our very popular Thorax Workout.



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