Hi, I'm Karri Owens. I was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Exercise and sports are two of my favorite things about life! Any free chance I get involves some form of physical activity. I come from a very active upbringing and have always lived a lifestyle surrounded by fitness and health.
I attended North Carolina State University, which awarded me a four-year athletic scholarship in soccer. I played on the Wolfpack's varsity team but unfortunately suffered some serious injuries.
For example, during just the third game of my freshman year, I blew out my right knee. That injury significantly affected the rest of my playing career. I spent the next four years undergoing multiple ACL reconstructions, bone transplants, and other major surgeries to my right knee.
Although these were obvious setbacks, it was those struggles that propelled me into a new life. The hardships I experienced gave me a different perspective on what it takes to be the best version of myself inside and out. I graduated from NC State in 2015 with a degree in Nutrition Science, having developed a passion for living optimally and moving correctly.
I am a certified EXOS performance coach and am pursuing my CSCS. I hope to share my knowledge and experiences with others so that they can be the best version of themselves as well!
Great, you're hurt. Now what?
Well, first remind yourself that anyone who is physically active has likely been there a time or two. And trust me, I get it. If spending six straight years on and off operating and treatment tables taught me anything, it is that not being at your full potential stinks. Especially when you feel like you're working hard and making gains. You don't want to stop because of a little pain. Before committing to the 'no pain, no gain' lifestyle-and training through the pain OR posting up with Netflix for longer than you'd probably care to admit-here are some important things to understand about why you might be hurting:
In order to make physical improvements, your body needs to be pushed to an appropriate level where gains can occur. Everyone's body has a different 'activity threshold.' That threshold is dependent on many factors, such as: age, baseline strength, and participation level. On the safe end of your threshold, muscular soreness will occur. Exceeding your threshold will result in pain.
Muscular soreness usually peaks 24-72 hours after activity and is the result of small, safe damage to your muscle fibers, sometimes referred to as 'DOMS' (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness). Your muscles may feel tight and achy and may even be tender to the touch. The more you train, the less you're affected by DOMS.
Pain, on the other hand, may feel sharp. It may be located in your muscles or joints and might linger without ever disappearing, not even after rest. Instead of pushing through the pain, listen to your body and stop exercising. Otherwise, you may risk serious injury. If pain persists, consult a medical professional.
When done appropriately, one of the expected outcomes of exercise is that your 'activity threshold' should progressively increase. (Think of a runner who is a beginner. At first, he can run for just one minute at a time. But after a few weeks of training, he's able to run 10-15 minutes at a time.) To maximize your exercise gains and minimize injury risk, it's important to be realistic about your activity threshold and to recognize the difference between muscle soreness and pain.
So...what should you do?
Test All Movements
If you're not sure whether you are injured or just sore, try working through as much of the range-of-motion of an exercise as possible with zero additional resistance and without feeling any pain. For instance, if your shoulder is bothering you, attempt to extend your arms above your head without any weight before attempting a push press. After that, test movements you would otherwise not suspect as problematic. For example, a shoulder injury could actually make doing box-jump sessions very painful due to the arm swing involved in the movement. In other words, try out each movement cautiously.
Work Your Weaknesses
Suppose you're not comfortable training that achy or injured body part. Although using this time to train your weak points may not sound like the most appealing solution, it's certainly an opportunity to zero-in on some areas in need of improvement. If you aren't sure what your weaknesses are, ask a training partner, a coach, or ask yourself what you dread training the most. Common weaknesses are: conditioning, movement, breathing, and exercise technique.
Spending more time on improving things like your aerobic capacity, movement patterns, or breathing will likely reap long-term health benefits. You can make a big difference just by spending added time on the basics and dialing into your patterns.
Movement is nutrition
Whether you are sore or injured, movement is your best friend. Remember that all recovery is aerobic in nature. When blood flows through the body and around an injured or affected site, it promotes the exchange of waste byproducts and rebuilds cells, feeding them nutrients, and ultimately speeding recovery. Of course, this depends on staying within your appropriate range of motion and following your medical practitioner's outline.
Aerobic conditioning develops the fat oxidation capacity of your liver, which allows it to clear out immune-system waste products more quickly. In addition, aerobic conditioning allows for greater parasympathetic tone, which promotes rest and recovery. Work up to two to three times per week for 60-90 minutes. Circuits of various low- threshold movements can be a substitute for steady state aerobic work.
Breathing stimulates the lymphatic system, digestion, blood flow (oxygenation of tissues), immune system, and helps "clean" the organs. This, in turn, results in faster recovery. Most of the immune cells in your body are created by bone marrow in the heads of the ribs. Proper breathing stimulates blood and lymph flow around the ribs, supporting optimal immune-cell production. Non-optimal breathing also affects cognitive function. This impairs your ability to make good decisions and changes your perception.
Paired with eating right, the tips above will help you have a better understanding of your body. In addition, there are many other forms of recovery, such as massages, scraping, and acupuncture. We will study these topics later.
As always, the go-to advice is, "If it makes you feel better and gets you back to training faster, do it."