The ‘Hair of the Dog’ Approach to Working Out

Memba her? At age 86?
Memba her? At age 86?

Usually the phrase “hair of the dog that bit you,” is used in an alcohol context. Specifically, dealing with a hangover by having the same type of drink that caused the problem in the first place. On the rare occasion I get a hangover, it’s likely because I sipped red wine the night before. Red wine and I don’t get along.


The phrase comes to mind as I nurse my aching left shoulder. I injured it in last Tuesday’s boot-camp session, and it hurt for more than a week. For several days, I couldn’t raise my arm past shoulder length in any direction. It’s been getting better, but I haven’t regained full range of motion.

Still, it was a great excuse to bail on this morning’s workout, but after yesterday’s protracted pity party, I didn’t dare. So, I returned to the scene of the crime.


Told Kate what was up, and she showed me some modifications that wouldn’t further strain my shoulder. However, I chose not to do the modifications since the fact that my shoulder was feeling better meant that I hadn’t done any serious damage.

Besides, aren’t we always told that the best way to get rid of the stiffness and soreness of a prior workout is to get back in the gym and work those same muscles? (No? Maybe it’s just me . . .)

Famous last words: I was able to go through all the motions without it hurting. Much. Concerned I may not have done the right thing, I consulted an expert; here’s what Google had to say:

·        WebMD: Delayed onset muscle soreness is common after exercise and usually means your muscles are getting stronger. No worries.


· A common misunderstanding is that a workout on sore muscles will speed recovery because it stimulates bloodflow. This is only partially true. . . . Working out with sore muscles leads to overtraining syndrome.

·        Livestrong: Don’t resume a rigorous workout. Get a massage.

I dunno. I mean, Kate didn’t have a cow when I insisted on pushing through the soreness. As a certified personal trainer, I’d take her word over Google’s. Remember, she’s lost more than 200 pounds. Sure, through gastric-bypass surgery, but 200 pounds is 200 pounds. And actually she hit some sort of plateau after losing a bunch of weight, but lost a great deal more by working with a personal trainer at my gym.


Right now, my left shoulder feels pretty good. It’s the rest of my body that got wrecked this a.m. Per usual, I’ll feel everything that hurts around 6 a.m. tomorrow, during my first attempt to get out of bed, when I’ll be painfully reminded of all the ab work, squats and lunges a mere 24 hours ago.

Seriously, I don’t mind soreness; it’s pain I have a problem with, and it was pain that I felt for several days after last Tuesday’s workout. Right now, though, I’d say this morning’s workout ended the last bit of soreness and restored full range of motion.


Here’s hoping I’ll still be able to say that come the morning.

I got kicked out of ballet class because I pulled a groin muscle. It wasn't mine. ~  Rita Rudner


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Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

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