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Handling Common Physiological Responses to Exercise

Handling Common Physiological Responses to ExerciseDue to exercise, the orderly nature of physiological processes in the body is temporarily disrupted, often leading to certain phy...

Handling Common Physiological Responses to Exercise

Due to exercise, the orderly nature of physiological processes in the body is temporarily disrupted, often leading to certain physiological responses known as exercise physiological responses. Properly understanding and managing these physiological responses during exercise can help overcome blind enthusiasm and randomness. The following are common exercise physiological responses and their handling methods.

I. Excessive Fatigue During Exercise

Cause: Pursuing exercise performance and training effects at the expense of safety and gradual progression, engaging in high-intensity physical exercise continuously; engaging in regular exercise without complete recovery from injuries, lacking comprehensive physical fitness and mental training.

Signs: Typically manifested as reduced appetite, sleep disturbances, low spirits, and occasionally headaches, dizziness, decreased memory, and restlessness. While objective examination might not show significant abnormalities, these symptoms impact daily studies and life.

Management: Adhere to the principle of early detection and early intervention, adjust exercise plans promptly, reduce exercise intensity and duration, avoid challenging movements, and pay attention to rest. Increase sleep duration, improve nutrition, complement with warm water baths, and include recovery massages and sports medicine.

Prevention: Follow scientific exercise principles, enhance physical fitness, and create suitable exercise plans based on individual variations. Strengthen self-monitoring and observe adverse signs during exercise. For injuries, seek timely treatment and gradually increase exercise intensity once the body has recovered.

II. Point of Exhaustion and Second Wind Phenomenon During Exercise

Point of Exhaustion: During intense exercises, especially in medium-to-long-distance running, substantial energy is consumed, lower limb blood flow decreases, and oxygen debt (resulting from the need to replenish oxygen during intense exercise to meet normal demands; at this point, oxygen is in deficit, hence the term "oxygen debt," which is a critical indicator of a person's anaerobic endurance) accumulates until reaching a certain threshold. This leads to symptoms such as rapid breathing, chest tightness, heavy legs, uncoordinated movements, and even nausea. In exercise physiology, this phenomenon is known as the "point of exhaustion."

Second Wind Phenomenon: After reaching the point of exhaustion, slowing down the pace and deepening breaths can alleviate and eliminate the aforementioned physiological responses over time. Subsequent improvements in function, increased oxygen supply, enhanced exercise capacity, and coordinated movements indicate the point of exhaustion has been overcome. This marks the emergence of a new equilibrium in physiological processes, termed the "second wind phenomenon" in exercise physiology. Once the second wind phenomenon sets in, circulatory function stabilizes at a higher level.

Management and Prevention: The point of exhaustion and second wind phenomenon are common physiological occurrences in long-distance running. There's no need for concern or fear as long as consistent exercise is maintained and properly managed. Methods to overcome the point of exhaustion include: ① Adequate warm-up to enhance sympathetic nervous system activation; ② Slowing down running speed and reducing exercise intensity after the point of exhaustion, coupled with deeper breathing; ③ Paying attention to regular exercise and improving respiratory and circulatory system functionality.

III. Muscle Soreness During Exercise

Muscle soreness caused by exercise can be classified into acute muscle soreness and chronic muscle soreness (delayed-onset muscle soreness, DOMS). Acute muscle soreness differs from muscle strain; it's a temporary ischemic phenomenon in muscles due to exercise. It only occurs after intense or prolonged muscle activity and disappears once the activity ends. Generally, acute muscle soreness is accompanied by muscle stiffness.

Chronic muscle soreness typically occurs 1 to 2 days after exercise, following a high-volume workout or after a period of no exercise followed by resumption.

(1) Causes and Symptoms of Muscle Soreness

Causes: Large muscle activity during exercise leads to minor damage to local muscle fibers and connective tissues, as well as spasm in some muscle fibers. Because this muscle fiber damage and spasm are localized, the muscle as a whole can still perform its function, but soreness persists. After soreness, internal muscle repair results in stronger muscle tissue than before, making it less susceptible to future damage from the same workload.

Symptoms of Muscle Soreness: Mainly characterized by local muscle soreness and overall fatigue.

(2) Management of Muscle Soreness

Heat Application: Applying heat aids in tissue repair and spasm relief.

Stretching Exercises: Stretching exercises help alleviate spasms. Perform local static stretches, maintain the stretched position for 2 minutes, rest for 1 minute, and repeat. However, exercise caution to avoid excessive force during stretches to prevent muscle fiber damage.

Massage: Massage relaxes muscles and promotes blood circulation, aiding in damage repair and spasm relief.

Vitamin C Intake: Vitamin C promotes collagen synthesis in connective tissues, assisting in tissue repair and alleviating soreness.

Acupuncture and Electrotherapy: Acupuncture and electrotherapy also play a role in alleviating soreness.

(3) Prevention of Muscle Soreness

Scientifically arrange exercise intensity based on different constitutions and physical conditions, avoiding excessive loads and sudden increases.

During exercise, try to avoid prolonged focus on a single body part to prevent excessive load on local muscles.

Prior to warm-up, ensure more comprehensive activity for muscles that will undergo heavier exercise, preventing damage.

In cooldown activities, in addition to general relaxation exercises, emphasize stretching and traction exercises to prevent localized muscle fiber spasms and subsequent soreness.

IV. Muscle Spasms During Exercise

Muscle spasms refer to involuntary contractions and rigidity of muscles. The muscles most prone to spasms during exercise are the calf gastrocnemius muscles, followed by the flexor hallucis longus and flexor digitorum brevis muscles in the foot.

Causes of Muscle Spasms: In intense exercise, rapid and continuous muscle contractions disrupt the coordinated alternation between muscle contraction and relaxation. This particularly occurs when local muscles are fatigued, making muscle spasms more likely. Muscle exposure to cold stimuli or excessive tension can also induce muscle spasms.

Signs of Muscle Spasms: During muscle spasms, local muscles experience intense contractions, becoming rigid and protruding. The pain is severe and not easily relieved.

Management of Muscle Spasms: Immediately apply traction to the spasming muscle area. For calf muscle spasms, extend the knee and perform dorsal flexion of the foot; for spasms of the flexor hallucis and flexor digitorum muscles, forcefully extend the toes. However, avoid exerting excessive force during traction; assistance from a partner is advisable. Additionally, combine local massage and acupressure (acupoints like Chengshan, Yongquan, and Weizhong) to alleviate and eliminate spasms.

Prevention of Muscle Spasms: Prior to exercise, perform thorough warm-up activities. For areas prone to spasms, apply suitable massage in advance. During prolonged summer exercise, pay attention to salt intake. In winter, focus on staying warm. Before swimming, shower with cold water, and avoid extended stays in the water. Avoid vigorous exercise when fatigued or hungry.

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