Muscular Fever

Most of the time the muscular fever represents a reason to quit the training session after the first signs of pain. Raul Toma, professional trainer at World Class, explained us what is the muscular pain, how it installs and how we can counter it.

What is the muscular fever ?

The muscular fever represents a sudden ache that is felt at muscular level and appears after 24 – 72 hrs after a more intense physical exercise that we are used to do, an anaerobic type of effort. A severe form may begin after 12 hrs and it lasts up to 6 -7 days. The symptoms and manifestations are diverse: pain on touch, burn, low mobility on movement, a small increase in volume of the affected muscle because of the accumulation of interstitial liquid. A strong but sustainable pain indicates a training sessions that took place in normal limits (even though they were intense). The pains that begin immediately after the training session and that are very strong may indicate more profound afflictions at the muscular, tendon and hamstring level.

The pain is not felt immediately because of one simple fact: the substances that appear after the cells have been destroyed may afflict also the sensitive nerves that transmit the pain sensations to the brain. This pain is a part of an adaptation process of the muscle and leads to the increase of resistance and force, after the muscles are getting back on track as a direct result of feeding and resting.

The causes of the installation of muscular fever

The muscular fever may be determined by the change of preferred practiced sport, the duration of the training session, its intensity, change in external stimulation, the apparition of new exercises, and lastly the absence of physical movement for a long while. The cause of muscular fever represents a microscopical tear at the muscular fiber level. The pain intensity rate is directly proportional with the intensity and duration of physical exercises. The usual pattern of the apparition of muscular fever: muscular micro lesions, the cellular membranes are affected and the balance at cellular level is destroyed, irritating substances are accumulating (potassium and hydrogen ions, histamine) in the cellular area and therefore the nerves that transmit the pain sensations to the brain are stimulated, the free radicals that are produced by the inflammatory cells are also emphasizing the already present lesions, the pain is therefore increased, the macrophage activity increases also, the interstitial edema appears.

In order to understand how to get to the muscular fever we must understand what happens first inside the muscle with the glucose, the main source of energy for the organism. Therefore, we have two types exercises, aerobics and anaerobic. The muscles will use the glucose differently, by taking into account the type of effort:

  1. Aerobic breathing – the glycogen is a polysaccharides formed out of molecules of glucose stored inside the muscles and the liver. When the muscles solicit the glucose in order to properly function, the glycogen dissipates in those molecules. The glucose is transformed by the oxygen brought by the red cells from the blood into water, carbon dioxide, energy needed for the muscles in order to realize the contraction. After a prolonged and intense muscular activity the lack of glycogen is associated with the fatigue of the neuron-muscular tissue (the place where the electric impulse sent by the nerve reaches the muscle), and the muscular contraction lowers its value and efficiency. The oxygen brought in is not enough in order to sustain the transformations of the glucose.

  2. The anaerobic breathing takes place place in the absence of oxygen. The glucose is being transformed into lactic acid, carbon dioxide and energy. When the lactic acid is produced, it decomposes into the lactic ion and the hydrogen ion. The latter is the negative factor, , that interferes with the electric signals from the nerves and the muscular tissue, being responsible for the burning sensation during the effort. The secondary effect of the lactic quantity is the increase in acidity at the muscular cells level. When a certain threshold is being overridden (the entrance ratio of the lactic acid into the bloodstream is higher than the organism’s capacity to to control it or to get rid of it), the hydrogen ions determine the decrease in the muscular pH, thus affecting the muscular contraction. The efficiency of the transformation of glucose into energy greatly decreases in this acid environment. The whole mechanism described in the last paragraph has a positive role: it prevents the apparition of muscular lesions by slowing the systems involved in maintaining the muscular contraction. If I will reduce the effort, I will access the oxygen more easier, and the lactic is transformed into piruvate (the final product of the catabolization ways of the glicoseglucose). Thus, the aerobic metabolism is being allowed to continue and the organism has the much needed energy to recover.

The muscular contraction type is another important cause in the installation of the muscular fever, having two characteristics:

  1. The eccentric contraction (the muscle is being held in tension when the body weight is lowered in order to lift a heavy weight) is responsible for generating the most lesions. Specific exercises: running downhill, going down the steps, releasing weights, the midget walk.

  2. The concentric contraction (the muscle shortens during contraction when a heavy weight is being lifted) is responsible in a much lower part. Specific exercises: normal flexations with heavy load.

The theory says that repeating a stimulus twice in a row determines the adaptation of the muscle to that stimulus. Generally speaking, barbell or small barbells exercises are more traumatic than those made with the equipment and winches, being much more efficient.

The more closer to the tendons the muscular fever s, the more we can say that the exercise was not efficient in regards to the muscular hypertrophy. The exercises that force the muscle to extend more on the movement duration (as per example the small barbells extensions for the pectorals) or the negative ones are better suited because the new stress is present on the whole length of the muscular fiber, and the muscular fever is more powerful on the center of the muscle.

In order to avoid the muscular fever the specialists recommend the supplementation with anti-oxidants before and after the training session (vitamin C, vitamin E, the Q10 co-enzyme, vitamin A, zinc and selenium).

Article published in BFresh Magazine.