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Fun and Fit: Why Is My Lower Body in Pain After Running and Walking?

There's more than one possible reason for muscle soreness

Dear Fun and Fit: How come I can run 10 miles Saturday morning with no soreness, but walking eight miles slowly leaves my entire lower body in pain? Sunday I rested. Monday I did a five-mile easy run that felt great. It was Tuesday’s slow eight-mile walk that made me sore!

— Sherry of the Deep South

Alexandra: Well, “Day-um,” as my other Southern friends would say! And “DOMS.” Which is not a way of cussing with a Northern accent. It stands for Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. We talked about it in our suggestively named post “Calves Got a Stiffy,” and feel happy to talk about this topic even more.

Essentially, elevating your core temperature (and thereby henceforthwith and so forthy warming up the muscles) within 24 hours of the original cardio exercise will help prevent muscle soreness later on. You don’t have to repeat the 10-mile run, but a walk of just 10 minutes should do the trick.

Kymberly: Running is powered primarily by calves and quads. Walking is powered by glutes and shins (and therefore a great cross-training or complementary cardio activity). So if you’re used to running and added the walking recently, then your body may simply have been adapting to using your muscles in a new or different way. I’m not sure if the pace had anything to do with the soreness unless the slow pace dictated or created an unusual gait that did not work for you biomechanically.

Q-angle for women and men.
Q-angle for women and men. ( illustration)

A: Door No. 3 — If it’s not delayed muscle soreness, could your pain be caused from overuse? Is it standard for you to do 31 miles in a four-day span? Somewhere in here I’ll throw out the concept of post-run stretching — oh, there, I just did!

With your entire lower body in pain, have you considered shin splints or your Q-angle? If you have fairly wide hips and/or a narrow stance, then your knees might be the ones yelling “ouchy.”

K: When you feel better, run or walk over to our place so you can let us know whether your pain and soreness are in your joints or muscles. If muscles, I’d say pull a Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t worry, be happy.” If your pain is in the joints, I’d say, “Whoa doggies, ask a health professional to assess you.” Do not light up those joints!

Dear readers: When the crossing light says “Don’t Walk,” do you run?

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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