Off Season Aches and Pains

I’m heavy into the off season now, and not doing much training at all. It’s a great time for recovery, for recharging my body and brain from all the stress I’ve put on it over the past year.
But one thing has been confounding me.
Why is it when I am doing practically nothing, that I feel all these sharp aches and pains in my legs? And they feel as bad as when I REALLY have tweaked them during heavy training?
I asked my physical therapist about it. He says it’s because during the normal, heavy training season, you’ve got your body flooded with nice pain-killing endorphins. They’re there to kill as much pain as possible and keep you functioning despite all the damage your muscles are receiving (which is required for growth and improvement).
However, during the off-season when your training has backed off – guess what – so have your endorphin levels. So now you have nowhere near as many endorphins in your system and thus, small aches and pains which you may not have felt at all during the training/racing season are now brought to the forefront, and in greater pain levels than you would think. Small tweaks during the race season aren’t even felt and drop below the noise level created by the endorphins!
Then, I asked my physical therapist about the knots that have formed in my muscles. How could they form, when I rarely put my muscles in a stressed, contracted state as I normally see during race season training? I can feel them clearly as I roll my hands/fingers across my thighs and IT band.
He said that during periods of high activity, the muscles constantly move against each other, and there is a natural effect of breaking down these knots and adhesions as muscle fibers glide against each other. Once you remove that, there is a tendency for these muscle adhesions to form because there is less muscle activity to clear the small adhesions out.
All this just makes me itch to get back into race training – guess that’s what the off-season break is all about…!

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