By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, May 5, 1999

Do lunges
properly to prevent
sore muscles

Question: Why do lunges always make me sore when squats and leg presses hardly phase me?

Answer: It may be because lunges emphasize the eccentric, or lowering, phase of the exercise, and it's the eccentric muscular phase that is primarily responsible for soreness.

With other lower body exercises, such as the squat, the eccentric phase is usually performed quickly, with less emphasis and less muscular control.This is what differentiates the lunge from other leg exercises.

With lunges, it's necessary to control the eccentric (lowering) phase in order to maintain your balance and ready yourself for the push off or concentric phase of the exercise.

Another reason people experience greater soreness from lunges is that this exercise moves the muscles through a deeper range of motion than other leg exercises. By this I mean the thigh of the forward (working) leg is lowered until parallel to the floor or lower. This recruits more muscle fiber, resulting in more muscle soreness. Such a deep range of motion is seldom found in other lower-body exercises.

Be sure to stretch out the glutes, hamstrings and quads after doing lunges, to help reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

Q: Is it OK to exercise in hot weather?

A: Yes, but understanding how to do so safely and effectively is very important. For example, if it's over 90 Fahrenheit outside, it's unsafe to exercise strenuously, or if the humidity registers above 75 percent, it's also wise to avoid strenuous activity. It's especially important not to overheat your body through strenuous exercise when both temperature and humidity are high.

Normally when we exercise in high temperatures our bodies cool down by perspiring. But when the humidity level is high, sweat doesn't evaporate as quickly and our body temperature can rise to dangerous levels.

Don't participate in competitive events during the hottest part of the day. Stick to early morning or late afternoon competitions.

Avoid swimming strenuously in heated pools when it's hot. It's possible to become overheated and/or dehydrated even in the water.

To avoid heat exhaustion, time your outdoor activities for earlier or later in the day. If possible avoid exercising between 10:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. If you ever feel dizzy, stop exercising completely.

Dizziness occurs when excess body heat overpowers the body's ability to regulate its own temperature. If you don't stop exercising, rest in the shade, and rehydrate your body, then you may develop heat stroke, an even worse condition.

If you work out in the heat regularly, you should drink more water than usual. Twelve to 14 cups a day is recommended. Always wear loose, light-colored cotton clothing.

Light colored clothes reflect the sun; cotton absorbs sweat better and dries out faster than other materials.

Sunblock (SPF 15 or higher), a cap or hat, and sunglasses are highly recommended.

Wear these even when it's overcast. The UV rays are as potent when it's cloudy as when it's sunny.

Work up or acclimate yourself gradually to the heat. Start out at a slower pace, work out for shortened durations, and exercise less frequently until you've trained your body to function optimally in hot weather.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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