Do Our Muscles Know When We Push Ourselves Too Hard?

Everyone’s used to that feeling of soreness in your muscles when you first start working out after a long time or if you’ve just increased the intensity of your workout. It’s usually at that point that people tell you that you have to “feel the burn” and break through the pain, work harder if you will. That’s not always a good thing, however, as a study from Queensland, Australia proved.

The University of Queensland held an experiment in which they tested participants by having them perform a series of leg exercises, using that time to see the effects that the exercise had on their bodies and muscle fibres. They kept a record of the exercises by mapping the muscle tissues from high biopsies at three different points, something that had only been done with lab rats before.

Dr Bradley Launikonis, a muscle physiologist and the man in charge of the investigation, pointed out that he and his colleagues were able to deduce that the soreness we feel when we exercise is the body’s way of telling us when we’re pushing ourselves too far.

While this is something that many studies had already noted about muscles, it is the first time that scientists can point out and accurately graph how the muscles respond. Indeed, once pushed too far, they begin releasing calcium as a way to make up for the tears that occur during exercise.

Through this, the muscles can become stronger once the tears have fully healed, but the calcium levels could become dangerous to the body and muscles if one does not give them a chance to rest.

(Read “Calcium and Its Possible Effects On Memory“)

The reason for this is that when calcium is released, the muscles also become vulnerable; it is then the job of the vacuoles to take care of the rest and tell you that you should probably stop for your good. They are the ones in charge of telling us when we’re overexerting ourselves.

In the end, Launikonis and his team were able to realise that, with the help of the vacuoles, not only were calcium levels able to go down but the body would also start to repair itself more frequently. They also noted that the vacuoles stopped their work once the exertion on the body stopped, meaning that they’re able to tell if you’re overexerting yourself or not.

The process was completely unprecedented before this study and is something that allows us to see more of just how our body works. What this proves that humans still have a lot to learn in regards to the body and the system that make up what we do during our day to day lives. Something that we’re sure more and more people will be looking into as time goes on.

In the meanwhile, if you “feel the burn”, it’s probably a good time to just stop and rest.


Photo Credits: Luvo, Healthline, Daily Burn

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