Exercise! - Rectus Femoris and Length of time between workouts

06-19-2004, 06:43 PM
Hi, all!

I did a 20 min. Yoga/Pilates tape on Wed. night, then did Jazzercise for an hour on Thursday. That, combined with my regular 1/2 hour on the elliptical on Wed and Fri mornings, and my rectis femoris (according to the online locator I found) muscles are KILLING me! They ache really strongly, even though it's been two days since I really worked them hard.

So, two questions:

How can I gently stretch these muscles? I've tried lunges and a variety of stretches, but can't reach them except for the same exercises I was doing, which hurt! (walking forward and back while squatting and joint leg lifts) Any ideas?

How long should I wait between workouts for my new muscles to build and for the lactic acid buildup (that's what causes the aching, right?) to go down? I don't want to injure myself, but I also don't want to wait any longer than I have to.

Does anyone have a good website or book that I can check out to help me understand the whole muscle thing? Thank you! :D

06-19-2004, 07:29 PM
Laurie - Hey girl!!! I need to look around the net and figure out exactly what the rectus femoris muscles are, I'm assuming they are calf or thigh muscles if they are back of the thigh, you can do gentle toe touches to stretch them out or sit on the floor with legs spread and do sitting toe touches. A good one for calves is the step stretch, put the toes of one foot on a step, hold on to the wall, and gently let your heels go down as if they were going to touch the lower step. you can also do that one on the wall, just place your toes on the wall with heel on the floor.

Also Body for life has you wait 24 hours in between muscle building work outs, so say you do upper body weights on monday, don't do upper body weights again til wednesday. So on the days you don't do upper, do your lower body and so on :)

I hope this helps but in the mean time I will keep a look out for a good website for you

06-19-2004, 09:17 PM
If the whole muscle area on both sides is tender, with no sharp pain anywhere, then it's probably just muscle soreness. Believe it or not, the best way to deal with it is a kinder, gentler version of the same exercise. Over and over. Eventually the soreness goes away. But IIWY I'd first concentrate on developing a consistent warmup routine, followed by gentle stretching. That will help prevent the soreness from getting really bad.

Another thing that helps me, is to shower in very cold water directly after the exercise. I think this helps keep the inflammation down. Either that or I'm so cold I can't feel pain! Ice bags on the area also help, just don't leave them there too long. You may also want to take some aspirin to kill the pain if you have trouble sleeping with it. This also brings down inflammation. Massage is fabulous, that really helps.

If the pain persists or gets localized and becomes sharper, especially near a joint, deep down, it's probably not routine muscle soreness. You may have a tear, strain, bursitis, etc. You might want to go to a doctor on that, although most doctors know absolutely zip about sports rehab and they usually just tell you to stop, which is not necessarily the right solution. A rehab specialist may come up with a better plan.

One thing you should not do is to diagnose yourself, or try to treat yourself beyond simple first aid or a R.I.C.E. protocol. Internet advice can often be worth exactly what you pay for it.

But there is no harm in educating yourself about exercise. There's a book called "The Female Athlete's Body Book" by Gloria Beim that has a lot of good info on training and rehab for various sports. "Weight Training for Dummies" by Liz Neporent and Suzanne Schlosberg is funny, informative, not cultish, and not out to sell you a protein supplement. I'd start with those.

06-21-2004, 10:13 AM
Thank you for the great suggestions! The Rectis Femoris (which are the muscles that hurt, I think) are the muscles that go across the top of your thigh, from your hip to your inner knee. They are *still* sore...but the pain is not localized or sharp, just a very strong ache. I put some IcyHot on the muscles before bed on Saturday, and that seemed to help. I'm finding that they get worse if I sit for a long time and seem to feel much better when I'm moving. Is this usually the case with muscles that have lactic acid buildup?

Would heat be better than cold, so that my blood can get the lactic acid out of my muscles faster?

06-21-2004, 10:19 AM
Nobody here is medically certified to give advice or diagnose. Give your physician a call and have the doctor check you out.

06-21-2004, 05:29 PM
Hi Laurie,

You have overused the thigh muscles - that's all! If the pain and discomfort last another couple of days WITHOUT your having done anything else to aggravate them then a trip to your GP for advice, anti-inflammatories etc would be a good thing to do.

Your schedule does seem to be a little too much in too small a time frame. You need to find yourself a source of information that suits you. A book or website or personal trainer - any that you like the look of, will give you basic info on how to structure your workouts.

At its most basic you are probably doing too much leg work. I'd guess that you are concentrating on cardio and pilates/yoga stuff. All of which REALLY hits the legs hard. You need to rethink the content and timing of your workouts. For example:

(Assuming tha Jazzercise is a class you go to and is the least easy to move)

Mon - upper body weight workout: arms, back, shoulders, include stretches
Tues cardio - elliptical trainer 30 mins; plus warm up, cool down and stretching session to end
Weds - day of rest would be good
Thurs cardio - Jazzercise
Fri - Mid body workout: abs, back, pilates/yoga stuff

Mix in a lower body resistance workout (squats, lunges, heel raises) and add in another half hour or 2 of elliptical workut on your weight/strength days as you get stronger and fitter and you will have a much more balanced workout.

As for stretches you need to concentrate on 3 main ones for the rect fem. and its assisting and surrounding muscles.

1) Iliopsoas or hip flexors: assume a rear lunge position. Hold both knees bent to 90 degrees and then push the rear leg hip forward. You should feel the front of the thigh get a good controllable stretch

2) Good old fashioned quad stetch: take one foot behind towards your bottom. Keep your supposrting knee soft, back tall and then push the hip of the bent leg forward to increase the stretch. Keep your knees close together - you don't need to assume a ballet position for it to be effective.

3) Adductors: Lie on your back, one knee bent foor flat to the floor. Cross the other leg over the bent eg, your foot to the knee. You now have a triangle. You can either put your hands or a towel behind the bent knee and raise it into your chest slowly or you could just use this position as a base for easing the kne on the outside of the triangle towrds the floor!

And don't worry Jack I do have the qualifications to give out this advice - it is my job!!

For those of you who haven't read me yet I have lots and lots of short courses for fitness plus a first degree in Sport + Exercise Sciences and a Masters in Health and Physical Activity. I have taught group fitness to special populations for 7 years and am currently employed to do just that, and more, in a Neighbourhood Project - supplying healthy living opportunities to a poor and disadvantaged population. The more includes Weight Management, smoking cessation, healthy cooking on a budget and much much more.

06-22-2004, 09:01 AM
Steph's advice is good- you are working the same muscle group too often. The general rule of thumb is don't hit the same muscle group HARD any more frequently that every 4 days. Michelle, Body for Life has 4 days between body part workouts, not every other day.

The pain you feel is not lactic acid build-up. Lactic acid causes the burning sensation while you are exercising. Stretching or 5-10 minutes of walking after your exercise helps decrease the lactic acid buildup. To stretch your quads, hold onto a chair or other stable object and bring your ankle up to your butt, and hold it with your hand (your ankle) for 15-20 seconds. Repeat with other leg.

Soreness for the 2 days after strenuous exercise is muscle repairing the micro-tears that you've created during weightbearing exercise. That's a good thing, unless you've pushed it to the crippling point! That's how muscle gets stronger and built up. Make sure you get plenty of good lean protein and complex carbohydrates and sleep to repair those muscles :)

If the pain persists or gets localized and becomes sharper, especially near a joint, deep down, it's probably not routine muscle soreness. (Seek)

Seek is giving good advice here- localized, deep pain or joint pain is not routine or something you want to just "work through." However, if it is completely muscular and not a strain, it will go away until you challenge your muscles again. I'm sore almost every leg day because I change my routine and weights everytime I don't get sore- but I want more muscle.

Rest, Ice, and look at changing your routine a bit ;)


06-22-2004, 10:13 AM
Mel - Thanks for clearing that up for me lol!! I think I have read that section of the book wrong lol, I better go back and read it again!


06-22-2004, 07:24 PM
Great advice, everyone, thank you SO much! I am such a newbie at the exercise thing, and now that I am actually having fun doing this *gasp!*, I'm doing more and more and more of it! :D The ache went away by Monday, and is fine, now. Even the elliptical on Monday did not seem to hurt it. If it had been really hurting and not just aching, I definitely would have called the doctor, Jack. But thanks for your concern! :goodvibes:

I did the Arms and Abs Belly dancing video last night to try to give something else a workout. Unfortunately, I can only go to the gym on Monday/Wed./Friday --it's a free service at work, but only open then. So I usually do my cardio workout then. Would it be better to skip the cardio on Wed. and just do arm weights? If so, then I would only have three cardio workouts that week--elliptical for 30 mins twice and one hour of Jazzercise...about 3/4 of which is cardio. Would that be enough? I can't run (asthma and knees) and other than that, what can I do to increase cardio at home when I can't go to the gym?

I know....I have tons of questions...thanks for being patient and understanding with my newbee enthusiasm! :goodvibes:

How does this look?

Mon: 30 mins. elliptical with stretching, 10-12 mins arm weights, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Tues: 50 crunches, 30 side crunches (touching elbow to knee), 30 mins. bellydancing video (not working legs specifically), 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Wed: Arm weights at gym, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Thurs: 50 crunches, 30 side crunches (touching elbow to knee), 1 hour Jazzercise class, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Friday:30 mins. elliptical with stretching, 10-12 mins arm weights, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Saturday:Gardening, if anything, 10 mins slow walk with dog.
Sunday:20 min. Yoga/Pilates video, 10 mins slow walk with dog.

Or is that still too much?

You aren't kidding about Yoga/Pilates being leg intensive. Who knew? I think that is what tipped the issue, as my legs were pretty much okay after my first Jazzercise class.

06-27-2004, 10:39 AM
Laurie I have one piece of advice for you:

Now you know how much fun it is SLOW DOWN and make yourself a routine that will be sustainable for you. I would love to hear from you in a month - just as enthusiastic and keen to change round a bit more.

You are doing great work, and are obviously keen on continuing it and seem to be able to take in information and shape it to best fit your routine. So I will say it again SLOW DOWN. You probably won't be able to sustain this level of activity without a) injuring yourself, b) burning out c) losing interest once the initial high is gone.

Taking your free (wonderful) work access I'd try this (your dog walking is lifestyle exercise and should ALWAYS be done, the dog needs it too so everyone gets the benefit):

Monday Elliptical for 30 mins
Tuesday Upper body, including abs and back
Wednesday Ignore the gym! Take a day out. Longer walk with the dog perhaps.
Thursday Jazzercise
Friday Elliptical for 30 mins
SaturdayLifestyle stuff: gardening, ironing, cleaning: basically a day off or light work
SundayLifestyle stuff, or a longer walk for the dog

Do this level for a 4 - 6 weeks and then take stock of how you feel both physically and mentally.

If you really enjoy it and you haven't hurt anything you could start to add back in the pilates, belly dancing etc.

The days you currently do 2 or 3 things are wonderful, but may be a little too much for you to keep up. Keep those ideas in mind and, when you are settled and loving the feel of it even more, add those combos back in.

But NEVER forget to build in a day of rest or you won't get the benefit of all that hard work you are doing, as Meliris said. There is no benefit to being a hero and pushing your body 7 days a week. It only hurts, is hard to sustain and leads to injury - all of that and it will ****** the gains you are trying to make!!!

And keep on comning back with questions. Lots of people here have loads of personal experience with all sorts of exercise. You are almost guaranteed to find someone who makes sense to you. And the debates that can be raised are really informative too!

06-27-2004, 10:49 AM

I just noticed your signature "baby to be"??? Are you pregnant?

If so one last piece of advice. Get and keep close contacts with your midwife (OBGYN or whatever they are in the US) and keep them fully appraised of the amounts and types of exercise you are doing. They may want to do more regular checks on blood sugars, blood pressure etc.

If you have a good class instructor let them know too. There are some exercises it isn't recommended you continue for all or parts of pregnancy, e.g. some yoga and pilates poses and the Jazzercise class.

Take your obgyn's advice and ask about pregnancy exercise classes and have web search for advice too:





Happy reading