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    Stiff legs and how long to get in shape?
    chanks67 posted:
    I am a 44yr old overweight female who is trying to get in shape and lose weight. Although I used to be active when younger, I am now woefully out of shape and 207lbs. I joined the 'Y Fit Challenge' at my local YMCA and have been working out 3-4 times/week since early January. Unfortunately, I feel like my legs have been sore the entire time! I've also been having knee pain which I never had trouble with before.

    Is it normal to always be stiff/sore? When I sit for awhile, like in the car or at my desk, when I first stand up, I feel like I can't straighten my legs the whole way. Once I walk around for a bit, my legs loosen up and I'm ok. Am I hurting myself or is this just the price of being out of shape and exercising?

    How long does it take to get back in shape?

    zumbashan responded:
    Hi! I'm Shannon Vergun, a Zumba Instructor, age 48. I've been exercising, lifitng weights, teaching and dancing for most of my life. First of all, bravo to you! Great job getting back to the gym and sticking with your routine!!! In answer to your question, I do feel sore and stiff when I get up from sitting and my legs do loosen up a bit like you described. A little bit of soreness is OK as long as you're being careful to rehydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water slowly, and to replace your electrolytes if you are sweating profusely. You also need to be sure you are eating healthfully. I recommend that my students or clients eat lean protein and vegetables within thirty minutes of a workout. If you are lifting weights, be sure your alignment is correct. For example, never bend past 90 degrees in a squat or lunge and be sure that your knees are in line with your ankles, not forward covering your view of your foot or toes. If you have access to trainers at your Y, find the one that has the best certification and education and take notes or even videotape your session if that's allowed. Focus on alignment, timing and breathing. Don't tense muscles that aren't involved (such as the face, jaw, neck) and make the most of each workout. If you focus more on low-impact moves in cardio classes, then you are depending upon your muscles to control your motion. In high impact, sometimes you're relying upon momentum over your muscle control. Get your form right first, then start jumping around if you feel you need that release!

    As for your knees, you'll feel some knee stress because you're overweight but sharp pain is different, and like swelling is an indication that you need to rest. You don't want to injure your knees or shoulders, or anything for that matter!

    Warm up gently, for example for 10 minutes on the elliptical machine before beginning your workout. Never stretch cold! Try to move your body a bit before you dig in. Leave time for stretching at the end of your sessions. Look up the best preventative stretches on the internet. In my classes we massage our knees while rolling them gently in a circle in one direction, then we switch the direction of t he small circles we're making with our knees. Our legs are bent the whole time.

    Best wishes to you and keep up the good work!
    brunosbud responded:
    Inflammation results from tiny micro fractures and tears in muscle fiber...this is normal particularly when you've overworked your muscles during exercise. Now, more blood flow is directed to these areas to help repair the damaged tissue. Then, soreness sets in. This is a text-book, perfectly normal body reaction when "injury" occurs.

    Don't worry. This will heal quickly. Soon, the swelling will dissipate and you'll be ready to move, again, pain free.

    Now, that its happened, you will have learned from that experience. You will take it slow to protect your muscles and major weight bearing joints from trauma and this will allow you to workout, everyday.

    Each day that passes without injury allows new muscle tissue to be formed, increases heart health and circulation flow. Lung capacity will gradually increase, too.

    You'll get back in shape when you and your body work together; not apart.
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
    Hi chanks,

    Good work on getting started and making this change in your lifestyle. It's a bit hard to say specifically what you should do without knowing what your workout includes, but in general, soreness means your muscles have trained and they are recovering and growing. The soreness is from inflammation from fluid in the muscles as they heal - the fluid takes up space in the muscle. If your muscles are stiff after sitting but the soreness goes away when you stand up (because moving around moves the fluid out), then that's a good sign. It means there's probably no injury, rather you've just started out and you may be doing too much all at once. If this is the case, then the soreness should resolve after a few more weeks. You can try massage in the meantime, and stretching after 5-10 minutes of light cardio such as a bike or walking. In fact, the soreness will probably go away after just the cardio during the session. Make sure to stretch your legs well (quad, hamstring, hips, and calf stretches (a trainer at the Y can show you). You also might want to lighten it up for a week or two, and then start back slower.

    If however, the soreness doesn't go away after another week or two, then you are probably overtrained. If so, then you need to take 5-7 days off from your vigorous workout. Ask a trainer at the Y to take a look at what you're doing and modify or replace it entirely with less intense exercises. Other causes for so much soreness related to exercise are dehydration, lack of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium), and low thyroid hormone. If you take a break from working out, then when you start again, start a little easier (less intensity and/or fewer exercises) and build up more slowly. If you take a break and the soreness continues, then you should contact your doctor.

    As for the knee pain, stretching will help that too if there's nothing wrong with your knees. Overtraining and tight muscles can cause knee pain. But if the knee pain continues then you should have your doctor take a look.

    As for weight loss, check out one of the WebMD diet clubs. Weight loss is hard on your own. The support from Community members, and the advice from the WebMD experts, can be very helpful.

    Here are the clubs:

    It's terrific that you're changing your lifestyle. Don't get discouraged, one way or another the soreness will resolve. If you still have questions please post back and include more detail about what you're doing.

    Take care,
    chanks67 replied to Rich Weil, MEd, CDE's response:
    Thanks for the encouragement and tips. The fitness challenge ends this week so I think I will take a 1 week break from the vigorous stuff and then build up more slowly. I need to incorporate more stretching too. Hopefully, the next session won't be so sore!
    Rich Weil, MEd, CDE replied to chanks67's response:
    That sounds like a good idea. Let me know how it goes.

    Take care,

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